Diaphana takes French rights on Chaye debut

ANNECY — Lea Seydoux, the French assassin of “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol” and star of Berlin opener “Farewell My Queen,” is attached as lead voice in toon feature “Longway North.”

Written by Claire Paoletti and Patricia Valeix, “North” is the feature debut of Remi Chaye, a storyboard artist and first a.d. on two recent European animation standouts, “The Secret of Kells” and Jean-Francois Laguionie’s “Le Tableau.”

Gallic distrib Diaphana has acquired French theatrical and DVD rights.

Budgeted at €8 million ($10 million), “North” typifies much higher-end French animation in its combination of artistic and audience ambitions.

Set in the 1890s, it turns on Sasha, a feisty aristocratic girl who flees St. Petersburg to rescue her grandfather, a renowned explorer lost in the Arctic.

Mixing 2D flash animation and 3D for key props, “North” is also the fiction feature debut of Paris-based Sacrebleu Prods.

“North” “targets children and families who love adventure stories — Jack London, Jules Verne,” said Sacrebleu founder Ron Dyens.

Sacrebleu will initiate animation April-May 2013, added Louise Bellicaud, Sacrebleu production manager.

Sacrebleu also produced Serge Avedikian’s “Barking Island,” which won a Cannes’ 2010 short Palme d’Or, and Bastien Dubois’ animated sketch-book travelogue, “Madagascar: Carnet de voyage,” which played Sundance.

One of France’s fastest-rising stars, Seydoux will star in Christophe Gans’ “Beauty and the Beast,” produced by Paris-based Eskwad and Pathe, and Abdellatif Kechiche’s “Blue Is a Hot Color.”

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