Following its big-scale Israeli premiere in Tel Aviv, Amos Gitai’s “Rabin, The Last Day” is getting ready for a major bow in France where it will likely spark debates.
The political film marks the 20th anniversary of the death of Israeli Prime Minister and Nobel Prize winner Yitzhak Rabin who was assassinated by a Jewish ultra-nationalist student in 1995.
Released in Israel by leading company United King, “Rabin, The Last Day” brought together about 2000 people, including key Israeli figures such as former Israeli president Shimon Peres at Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square.
Weaving archive and fiction meticulously based on the Shamgar Commission transcripts, the movie shot on location in Israel. LGM’s Jean-Baptiste Dupont and Les Films du Worso’s Sylvie Pialat produced with Orange Studio’s David Kessler. Israel’s United King is a co-producer.
Sophie Dulac Distribution and Selective Films are now staging a high-profile roll-out in France on Dec.16 — which is also the release date of “Star Wars, The Force Awakens.”
Tirel said “positioning ‘Rabin’ against ‘Star Wars’ makes sense because Amos Gitai’s film represents a powerful counter-programming offer.” Tirel also noted that he expects the release to benefit from the media buzz surrounding the 20th anniversary of Rabin’s death.
Since world premiering at Venice, “Rabin” went on to play at Toronto, in the Masters section, and was selected at Rio, Copenhagen, Seville, Lisbon and Goa, among other festivals.
Jean-Philippe Tirel, who heads Selective Films, has enlisted a flurry of prestige and notoriously picky partners in Gaul, notably the radio station France Inter, newspaper Le Monde, magazines Le Nouvel Obs, Courrier International, Histoire as well as The Huffington Post.
France, which is Europe’s biggest co-producer of Israeli movies, is a key territory for “Rabin.” The movie opened the second edition of the festival organized by Le Monde on Sept.25 and was followed by a lively discussion with Gitai and the former ambassador of Israel in France. Gitai was also interviewed on Nov. 28 by Anne Sinclair on Europe 1, France’s top radio station, and spoke about the contemporary relevance of the film.
Kessler, who previously worked as culture and communication advisor to French president Francois Hollande and joined Orange Studio in 2014, came on board on the project at treatment stage as a co-producer and put down a significant minium guarantee.
“We found that the subject was very interesting from it premises. The fact that Amos Gitai gained access to transcripts and the idea he had to weave documentary and fiction sounded very compelling,” said Kessler, who also emphasized the political dimension of the film. “It shows how Rabin’s assassination was enabled by ultra-religious and far-right communities and it denounces the derives of the Israeli right wing represented by Benyamin Netanyahou,” explained Kessler.
Although they tend to handle pics with a more mainstream profile, both Orange Studio and LGM have been investing in select auteur movies with crossover appeal. Orange Studio, for instance, co-produced “The Artist,” “Timbuktu” and “L’ordre et la moral.” LGM, the producer of Olivier Marchal and Fred Cavaye’s actioners, earned critical acclaim with Guillaume Gallienne’s “Me, Myself and Mum” and Guillaume Nicloux’s Cannes-competing “Valley of Love.”
Tirel said “Rabin” had a symbolic resonance because it shows the first political murder of a Jew by a fellow Jew, a crime that has created a trauma within Israeli society.
The movie has also stirred foreign buyers’ interest. Nicolas Eschbach’s Indie Sales has now sold “Rabin” in a raft of territories, notably Austria (Thimfilm), Sweden (Triart), Switzerland (Adok Film), Poland (Against Gravity), Australia OZ (JIFF Distribution) and Brazil (Tucuman Filmes). The Paris-based company is currently finalizing a U.S. and Canadian deals.