PARIS – Giving far wider potential play to an insider’s documentary on an event and group of artists that moved the world, Paris-based Pyramide International has licensed docu-feature tribute “Je suis Charlie” to Netflix.
Directed by father-son team Daniel and Emmanuel Leconte, the former a close friend of the French cartoonists and helmer of a 2008 Charlie Hebdo docu-feature, “It’s Hard To be Loved By Jerks,” “Je suis Charlie” will be made available in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Australia/New Zealand on Jan. 6, the eve of the first anniversary of the attack on Charlie Hebdo’s office in Paris, which left 12 dead.
Move comes as Pyramide Intl., a premier European arthouse sales company, is pushing out early pre-sales on two other key titles: Mikhael Hers’ “This Summer Feeling” and Lea Fehrer’s “Les Ogres.”
“Summer” and “Ogres” both screen at Paris’ UniFrance Rendez-Vous with French Cinema, unspooling Jan 14-18.
Premiering at September’s Toronto Festival, “Je suis Charlie” features archival interviews with slaughtered cartoonists Cabu, who drew the caricature cover of a 2006 issue featuring the prophet Muhammad and Danish cartoons, and Charb, Charlie Hebdo editor-in-chief. Also in the mix are footage from multitudinous street demonstrations after the killings and post-attack talking heads accounts from co-worker survivors of the carnage and commentary that, usefully for foreigners, attempt to provide a context for Charlie Hebdo.
Cartoonist Coco recalls how she was forced at gunpoint to open the Charlie Hebdo office doors; French president François Hollande discusses precedent, French feminist historian Elizabeth Badinter charges of anti-semitism , former Charlie Hebdo director Philippe Val sets Charlie Hebdo in a tradition of Denis Diderot, Emile Zola and Victor Hugo.
Using Daniel Lecomte’s closeness to Charlie Hebdo to follow its preparation of a special issue after the attack – the staff admit it was hard to see the funny side of the slaughter and present personal portraits of the dead cartoonists, “Je suis Charlie” is at its best, say reviewers, depicting the philosophy of the cartoonists, their passionate and unqualified defense of freedom of expression, satire, and the right to make people laugh.
Analyzing in painstaking detail Charlie Hebdo’s legal battle with Islamic organizations over its publishing of cartoons depicting Muhammad, “It’s Hard To be Loved by Jerks” was acquired by Kino Lorber for U.S. distribution in a 2015 Berlinale deal.
Written by Hers and Mariette Désert, a Cesar best original screenplay nominee for Katell Quillevere’s “Suzanne,”
Hers’ “This Summer Feeling” is distributed in France by Pyramide Distribution, bowing on Feb. 17. In its first sales deals, Pyramide Intl. closed Canada (K Films) and Taiwan (Maison Motion).
Winner of the 2015 Bordeaux Independent Film Festival’s Grand Jury Prize, the drama stars Norway’s Anders Danielsen Lie (Joachim Trier’s Cannes Un Certain Regard player “Oslo, August 31st,” Lucie Borleteau’s Locarno 2014 winner “Fidelio, The Journey of Alice”) and Judith Chemla, a Lumiere Prize best newcomer winner for “Camille Rewinds.”
Produced by Nord-Ouest Films’ Pierre Guyard, whose credits include Thomas Cailley’s Cannes 2014 Directors’ Fortnight smash hit “Love at First Fight,” “This Summer Feeling” begins in high summer when Sasha, a 30-year-old French woman, dies suddenly, in Berlin. Her death brings two near strangers, her sister and boyfriend, closer together as their share their grief and weight of loss over three successive summers in Berlin, Paris and New York. Film charts what is described as their “return to light.” “Only through the passage of time can one get at the truth of absence,” Hers has said.
Having caught attention with her debut, 2009 Venice Days player “Silent Voices,” a Louis Delluc best first film winner, Fehrer’s “Les Ogres” turns on an ageing touring theater troupe whose life, mixing family, work, love and friendship, is disrupted by the return of an old flame and an imminent birth. Ensemble cast, which includes director’s father and sister François and Ines Fehrer – head and member of ‘Agit Theatre, a real-life French travelling theater – is toplined by Marc Barbe (“Little Lion”) and Adele Haenel.
One of France’s hottest young prospects after she won a surprise but applauded best actress Cesar last February for “Love at First Fight,” Haenel had already scooped two Cesar most promising actress nominations – for Celine Sciamma’s “Water Lilies” in 2008 and Bertrand Bonello’s “House of Tolerance” in 2012 – and took home a supporting actress Cesar for “Suzanne” in 2012.
Pre-sold to Cineworx in Switzerland, whose acquisitions include Andrey Zvyagintsev’s “Leviathan” and Pablo Larrain’s “No,” “Les Ogres” will be released in France by Pyramide Distribution on March 16, marking Haenel’s first major role movie release in over one-and-a-half years.