Helmer Lang’s ‘Idol’ worship

Pic echoes Wong's 'In the Mood for Love,' Sapaut sez

CANNES — Samantha Lang will direct the $6 million feature “The Idol,” starring Leelee Sobieski and James Hong. TF1 Intl. is handling world sales.

The Paris shoot starts in September. The film, produced by France’s Fidelite Prods., follows the unlikely relationship that develops between a young American woman mistreated by her married lover and an older Chinese man.

TF1 Intl. chief Didier Sapaut said the script has “echoes of Wong Kar-Wai’s ‘In the Mood for Love.’ ”

It is the first English-language film for Fidelite, which produced Francois Ozon’s recent “Under the Sand,” starring Charlotte Rampling, and “Eight Women,” which is in production and stars a bevy of top French actresses including Catherine Deneuve, Isabelle Huppert and Emmanuelle Beart.

Lang’s previous films include “The Monkey’s Mask” (2000) and “The Well” (1997).

TF1 Intl., the sales arm of French private web TF1, has a full slate at Cannes, with seven new films including a batch of projects from Charles Gassot’s Telema. TF1 took a 49% stake in Telema just over a year ago.

The Telema projects range from the ambitious $35 million “The Woman Trap,” by cult cartoonist Enki Bilal, a teaser of which will be shown Sunday, to the $13 million “The Legend of Tristan,” which Goran Paskaljevic is scheduled to begin shooting in September.

TF1 Intl. also is co-producing and handling all world rights except China and France on Chinese pic “The Little Chinese Seamstress,” which will be directed by Dai Sijie, author of the best-selling book of the same name.

The film, which starts shooting later in China later this month, is being co-produced by Productions Internartionales le Film and Philippe Rousselet’s Les Films de la Suane. It stars Xun Zhou (“Beijing Bicycle”).

Other movies handled by TF1 Intl. include Norwegian Ole Bornedal’s “I Am Dina,” starring Maria Bonnevie and Gerard Depardieu, and Belgian film “Pauline & Paulette,” by Lieven Debrauwer, unspooling in the Directors Fortnight.