French mini-major preps 'Mea Culpa'

Gaumont, the powerhouse behind “The Intouchables,” is turning into a major backer of contempo French thrillers.

Rolling off the Paris-set high-voltage crimer “Point Blank,” the French mini-major is re-teaming with Fred Cavaye on his most ambitious pic yet, “Mea Culpa,” a $20 million actioner.

Lebanon’s Nadine Labaki — best known as the critically acclaimed director of “Caramel” and “Where Do We Go Now” — has joined the cast, which also includes French stars Vincent Lindon (“Anything For Her”) and Gilles Lellouche (“Point Blank”).

Jean-Baptiste Dupont and Cyril Colbeau-Justin at LGM, the producers of “Point Blank,” are back on “Mea Culpa.” Gaumont co-produces and is handling international sales, plus French distribution.

Pic turns on Franck and Simon, two good cops who work as partners. Their lives take a tailspin when Simon accidentally causes a tragic car wreck. ” ‘Mea Culpa’ is a friendship tale with real depth and also undeniably a high-adrenaline action film carried by a powerful acting duo,” said Gaumont’s sales chief Cecile Gaget.

Cavaye has established himself as one of France’s top thriller directors with “Anything For Her” and “Point Blank.”

“Mea Culpa” is one of the first local pics set to lens at Luc Besson’s mega-studio Cite du Cinema. It also shoots in the South of France and in Paris. Delivery is skedded for the end of 2013.

At the AFM, Gaumont is also shopping “Paris Countdown” from scribe-turned-helmed Edgar Marie (“A Gang Story”).

Set over one night, the thriller stars Marchal and Jacques Gamblin as Parisian nightclub owners who unite to face a revenge-seeking psychopath.

Gaumont will show a five-minute promo at AFM. It has also pre-sold Canada (E One), Japan (Comstock), Germany (Tiberius), Switzerland (Frenetic), India and Indonesia (MVP), Czech Republic (North Video) and Turkey (Calinos).

Gaget said “Countdown” has also sparked English-language remake offers.

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