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L’affair du ‘Engagement’

Will producers unions be enraged over pic for 'Very Long'?

HOLLYWOOD — Though “A Very Long Engagement” is set in World War I, a much fiercer war is being fought in France over whether the Jean-Pierre Jeunet pic is truly French. The Centre National du Cinema OK’d Gallic film subsidies, which riled some producers unions, who cited the project’s Warner Bros. funding.

At last week’s Chinese Theater preem, Warner Independent topper Mark Gill said “the film is shot in France in French by a French director with French actors and it’s based on a French novel. If that’s not French, then I’ll eat my chapeau.”

At the Nov. 10 screening, Jeunet (who got a partial standing ovation before the pic unspooled) called his film a “perfect collaboration between the USA and France.”

At the Highlands after-party, the helmer downplayed the controversy with the producers as “just a commercial concern. They don’t want to share the cake.”

And when Jeunet mentioned that the same unions “are saying ‘Alexander,’ an Oliver Stone film in English shot in Morocco, is a French film,” he gave new meaning to the phrase Gallic shrug.

Among those attending were Warners’ Alan Horn, Barry Meyer and Richard Fox; stars Audrey Tautou, Gaspard Ulliel and Jodie Foster; exec producer Bill Gerber; plus guests including Phillip Noyce, Ron Perlman, Jeff Kleeman and the AFI’s Jean Firstenberg.

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