Cannes: Gallic Laffer ‘Homeland’ Nabs Cannes

Latest buzz title from ‘Intouchables’ producers

CANNES — One of the latest candidates to become the big French comedy of 2013, first-time feature director Mohamed Hamidi’s buzz title “Homeland” (Ne quelque part s’inspire) will receive a Cannes’ Official Selection Special Screening dedicated to school students.

Sold by Wild Bunch, “Homeland” is backed by “The Intouchables” producer Quad Films. Paris-based, Quad also teamed with UPI to produce romantic comedy “Heartbreaker,” which scored a weighty Euros 24 million ($31.1 million) in France.

Written by Hamidi and Alain-Michel Blanc, a regular Radu Mihaileanu co-scribe (“The Concert,” “The Source”), “Homeland” is a cleverly structured civil-status comedy, inspired in part by the director’s own return to his father’s village in Algeria after 20 years of absence.

In the film, Farid, a 26-year-old French law student (Tewfik Jallab) visits his father’s village in Algeria for the first time in his life, falls in love with the country and a beautiful girl in the village, then has his papers stolen by his shady cousin, who wants an easy passage to France.

Suddenly, Farid, who has never thought of not being a French citizen or not living in France, has to try to get back to France as an illegal immigrant — if he decides to return to France at all.

Top Gallic comedian Jamel Debbouze, who also co-produces out of his Kissfilms label, heads the cast playing Farid’s cousin.

A buzz title at January’s Unifrance Paris Rendez-vous, where foreign distributors sensed “Homeland’s” feel-good appeal and remake potential, “Homeland” will have just one screening at Cannes, with Debbouze and Hamidi in attendance.

Hamidi, a screenwriter for Debbouze’s stage show “Tout sur Jamel,” was encouraged to write the screenplay by Debbouze and “Intouchables’” directors Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache, he has said.

The one-movie Cannes Special Screening school student slot was filled last year by Patrice Leconte’s “The Suicide Shop.”

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