The closing night gala slot for “Samba” marks the third time in four years that a Gaumont/A Contracorriente French title brings the curtain down on the Spanish fest after 2011’s “Intouchables” and last year’s “The Young & Prodigious T.S. Spivet,” both of which world preemed in San Sebastian.
“Samba’s” San Sebastian turn marks its European premiere after it is first seen as a Gala Presentation at Toronto.
Also starring “A Prophet’s” Tahar Rahim, “Samba” substitutes across-the-tracks bromance for across-the-tracks romance with Sy playing a Mali immigrant, Samba Cisse, and Gainsbourg a burnt-out exec recycling as an immigration worker. She attempts to aid the soon-to-be-deported Samba with their professional and personal relationships blurring.
Nicolas Duval, Yann Zenou and Laurent Zeitoun at Quad, the Paris-based company that produced Toledano and Nakache’s last three films – “Nos Jours Heureux,” “So Happy Together” and “The Intouchables” — produced “Samba” with Gaumont and Toledano and Nakache’s Ten Films label.
“In a similar vein to ‘Intouchables,’ ‘Samba’ is a social comedy that tells a moving and universal story and is anchored by endearing characters we can all relate to,” said Gaumont sales head Cecile Gaget at the time of “Samba’s” announcement as a project.
Punching $264.8 million outside France, Gaumont’s “The Intouchables” became the highest-grossing French-language export ever.
Launching Sy’s international career – he has gone on to play in “X Men: Days of Future Past” and 2015 release “Jurassic Park” – “Intouchables” received a generally enthusiastic reception at San Sebastian, though it was only when the first day figures came in from Senator Ent. in Germany in early January 2012 that it became increasingly clear that the film could become an international B.O. phenom.