Wild Bunch packs bigger pix punch

French sales agent adds financing, producing to resume

Gaul’s Wild Bunch is coming of age — not only as a leading sales agent but also as a financier, producer, distributor and adviser to an exciting generation of French indie producers.

“Superstar,” which plays Venice competition today underscores Wild Bunch’s new multi-faceted role.

Directed by Xavier Giannoli (“In the Beginning”), “Superstar” firms up a burgeoning alliance with Edouard Weil’s Paris-based Rectangle Prods. Wild Bunch sold the Weil-produced “Declaration of War” — which played Cannes Critics’ Week — and released it in France.

On “Superstar,” Wild Bunch goes one step further, selling, distributing in France and also producing, along with Rectangle, Studio 37, France 3 Cinema and Scope.

Wild Bunch and Weil, who has produced all Giannoli’s films, are teaming for his next, about “the fate of a woman lost at the heart of her own life story in a labyrinth of manipulations and lies,” the helmer told Variety.

Wild Bunch’s “higher level of intervention on films isn’t planned but it’s a natural evolution, coming with age,” said co-topper Vincent Maraval of the 12-year-old shingle.

“We know directors and producers better, what we can give them, and they know what they can ask of us.”

Wild Bunch bucked the nationalist urge of French filmmaking, championing directors worldwide from the get-go, while steadily building up film-by-film relations at home.

Just three of its connections, all with U.S. ties, are “The Artist” producer Thomas Langmann at La Petite Reine; Alain Attal’s Les Productions du Tresor, behind Guillaume Canet’s New York-shot “Blood Ties” and “Populaire,” a Weinstein Co. U.S. pickup; and Said Ben Said’s SBS Prods., producer of Brian De Palma’s “Passion,” another contender in Venice.

Maraval also cites Why Not Prods. and Fidelite as frequent partners.

It’s “Superstar” that will grab attention at Venice, however.

The suspense-laced, absurdist social fable stars a hangdog Kad Merad as a humble factory worker who one day discovers he’s an Internet super-celeb, but for no apparent reason.

It was inspired by a newspaper report, which would have made “Hitchcock and Kafka laugh,” Giannoli said.

For Giannoli, “Superstar” portrays “a world that is a talk-show where everybody exhibits and boasts about their intimacy, a dehumanized society that has sacrificed to spectacle values I hold dear, such as a decency and a respect for vulnerability.”

In “Superstar,” “Giannoli is close to the Robert Altman of ‘Pret-a-Porter’ and ‘The Player,’ ” Maraval said. “It’s smart comedy that laughs along with audiences.”

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