Weil taps into Gallic talent

Giannoli, Techine, Assayas pix on producer's slate

Edouard Weil is quickly becoming one of the busiest producers in France.

Olivier Assayas’ “Demonlover,” which stars Connie Nielson and Chloe Sevigny and screens tonight in competition, was produced by the 32-year-old Weil’s Elizabeth Films.

On Weil’s upcoming production slate is Andre Techine’s next film — an adaptation of Georges Simenon’s “Chemins sans issue” starring Catherine Deneuve — and Assayas’ next film, a rock and roll thriller starring Maggie Cheung.

But first he’ll produce partner Xavier Giannoli’s first feature, a low-budget love story shot digitally. Weil produced Giannoli’s short film “Interview,” which starred Mathieu Amaric and won the 1998 Camera d’Or and the 1999 Cesar for best short.

Weil didn’t name his company after an old girlfriend or his mother; it’s an homage to idol Martin Scorsese, who filmed “Mean Streets” around Manhattan’s Elizabeth Street in Little Italy.

“Ironically, Scorsese was president of the jury in 1998 when Xavier got his Camera d’Or,” Weil tells Variety.

The first feature Weil produced was Sam Karmann’s 1999 “Kennedy and I,” a comedy about a man’s midlife crisis, starring Nicole Garcia and Jean-Pierre Bacri. The pic, which was distributed by Pathe, racked up a solid 600,000 admissions in France.

When Weil received the “Demonlover” script, he jumped at the chance to work with Assayas.

“As a producer, what I seek is to be surprised beyond my hopes,” Weil explains. “I knew there was the chance that would happen with Olivier.”

Weil calls the $6.5 million thriller “post-contemporary.” “It’s about the danger of easy access to Internet images,” he explains, “and how you can fall into the virtuality you’re always looking at.”

The film was shot in 10 weeks in France, Japan and Mexico and gave Weil an accelerated course in international co-production. He also got to experience the world of Hollywood agents and star handlers.

“It’s so different than in France,” Weil explains. “In the U.S., I had to deal with three people for every actress and they were all worried about letting their actors go off to work in this weird country.”

Weil wants to produce movies that fall between art films and mainstream pics. “But it’s harder and harder in France to produce films that can’t be put into a box,” he says.

Fortunately, Weil is more interested in mounting international co-productions, which he believes are the future of European cinema.

Big budget, low budget –it’s all the same to Weil. “As long as the budget is coherent with the story,” he states.

Weil would love to work with directors Todd Solondz, Neil LaBute, Atom Egoyan and David Cronenberg.

And, of course, to see a Scorsese film produced under the Elizabeth Films banner would be the ultimate thrill.