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Gerard Depardieu to Topline Rachid Djaidani’s ‘French Tour’ (EXCLUSIVE)

PARIS — Rachid Djaidani, who made his feature debut with Cannes’ Directors Fortnight player “Rengaine,” has enlisted French star Gerard Depardieu for his sophomore outing, “Tour de France” (“French Tour”).

Produced by Anne-Dominique Toussaint’s Les Films des Tournelles, “French Tour” centers around an up-and-coming French-Arab rapper who has to lie low and reluctantly accepts to drive his producer’s dad, a reactionary blue-collar retiree living in a project, across France for two weeks. Culminating with a rap concert in Marseille, the road trip allows Depardieu’s character to discover the young man’s world, expanding his own horizons.

Depardieu, who presented a Maurice Pialat-Depardieu restrospective at Locarno in 2011, will star opposite a soon-to-be-announced popular French rapper who is set to make his acting debut in the film. At 66, Depardieu is enjoying vibrant times: His latest film “Valley of Love” premiered in competition at Cannes, and he’s been cast to play the main role in “Marseille,” Netflix’s first French-language series.

The €3 million ($3.3 million) “French Tour” marks Djaidani’s anticipated follow-up to “Rengaine,” a long-gestated film shot with a micro-budget that became the talk of Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight in 2012 and won the Fipresci prize. Stephane Celerier’s super-indie Mars Distribution is co-producing “French Tour” and will distribute it in France. Raphael Berdugo’s Cite Films is handling international sales on top of co-producing. The movie is backed by a pair of new private investors: AOC Films and Youthful. “French Tour” has also been pre-bought by Gaul’s pay TV giant Canal Plus.

Toussaint explained “‘French Tour’ weaves drama and biting comedy, and while it’s not a conventional buddy movie, it shows a reconciliation between the two characters, who are initially at odds and eventually bond after learning more about each other.”

Added Toussaint, “It’s a contemporary film that is political, yet poetic and compelling to watch because it shows a clash between France’s urban and traditional cultures that we seldom see in movies.”

The music plays a key part in the pic, which is why Clement Animalsons, the Grammy-nominated French music producer who’s previously worked with artists including Waka Flocka, Booba, La Fuine and Benjamin Biolay, was tapped to create the original score.

Animalsons said the score weaves rap songs and French standards. “This eclectic mix of music reflects France’s contemporary society, where two different worlds coexist and seldom intersect,” Animalsons pointed out.

Pic has just started shooting in Poitou-Charente.

Toussaint’s recent credits include Louis Garrel’s “Two Friends,” which opened at Cannes’ Critics Week and will be released in France on Sept. 23. Toussaint has also launched the directing careers of Riad Sattouf and Nadine Labaki, among others.

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