×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Fest fetes debuts of all genres

From fantasy to romance and zombie actioners

Although this year’s City of Lights City of Angels fest brings new films from such celebrated French directors as Claude Miller, Christian Carion and Christophe Honore, more than half the lineup are first-time films.

The 14 debut entries run the gamut from comicbook artist Joann Sfar’s biopic “Gainsbourg” to TV vet Pascal Chaumeil’s hit romantic comedy “Heartbreaker” and Gaul’s first zombie movie, “The Horde.”

“Our selection shows a trend toward high-concept, well-written and visually appealing films, which have a more international reach than ever before.” says Colcoa topper Francois Truffart.

The event, which runs April 19-25 in L.A., also reflects the breadth of opportunities for emerging helmers in France. In fact, 2009 saw a record number of first and second films, which made up 62.6% of Gallic film production, a 9% jump from the year before.

“Even in periods of economic recession, first-time French filmmakers benefit from a variety of financial resources, including the CNC’s advance on receipts, local subsidies and TV channels’ minimum guarantees,” explains Benoit Danard, CNC’s head of studies and statistics.

Debuts partly financed with local subsidies and CNC’s coin include Femis grad Lea Fehner’s “Silent Voices,” actor-turned-helmer Pascal Elbe’s thriller “Tete de Turc” and “Round Da Way,” an irreverent toon from Albert Pereira Lazaro and Emmanuel Klotz.

Ironically, it’s the populist debuts — the ones most likely to land their helmers Hollywood careers — that are hardest to get financed in France.

According to Quad Films’ Yann Zenou, who produced “Heartbreaker,” the French system doesn’t value films for broader auds and seems disinclined to trust newcomers with projects costing more than E7 million ($9.4 million).

“Apart from Universal and Orange, the potential financial partners from distribution companies and TV channels told us we were taking too many risks considering the $11 million budget,” Zenou says of the film, which stars Vanessa Paradis and Romain Duris. “They were skeptical about having a first-time director on board and two actors best known in auteurish dramas.”

And yet, in light of “Heartbreaker’s” success at the French B.O. (pic has earned more than $15 million in France since opening March 17), 49-year-old Chaumeil was probably the safest “first-timer” they could find, having directed such popular French TV skeins as “Spiral” and “Desperate Parents.”

“I’ve learned from my long career in TV how to work on tight budgets, shoot fast and use tricks to hike the production value,” asserts Chaumeil.

The Horde” directors Yannick Dahan and Benjamin Rocher faced similar challenges. Only Gallic powerhouse Canal Plus (a big backer of first-time talent) was willing to take the risk.

“A genre film like ours requires a certain level of budget to be visually compelling, but it’s extremely difficult to finance in France,” says Rocher. “It’s not yet considered art over here.”

And yet, like “Heartbreaker,” it’s just the sort of calling card that could ensure its helmers a second film, possibly even one in Hollywood.

Popular on Variety

More Scene

  • 10 Storytellers to Watch

    Variety Celebrates Inaugural 10 Storytellers to Watch Event

    Storytellers from across the spectrum of entertainment — film, literature, podcasting and play writing — were honored Thursday at Variety’s inaugural 10 Storytellers to Watch luncheon at Gramercy Park Hotel, hosted with partner the Independent Filmmaker Project and presented by Audible. Honorees Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, author of “Friday Black”; “Limetown” podcasters Zack Akers and Skip Bronkie; [...]

  • Demi Moore Corporate Animals

    Demi Moore Teases Upcoming Memoir 'Inside Out,' Talks 'Corporate Animals' Team Bonding

    As Demi Moore gears up for the Sept. 24 release of her autobiography “Inside Out,” the actress says she feels like a weight has been lifted. “Even the stuff that I may have been nervous about is completely lifting…because it’s a process,” Moore told Variety at the premiere of her upcoming film “Corporate Animals” at [...]

  • Connie Britton BlogHer Summit

    Connie Britton on ‘Friday Night Lights’ Remake: ‘You Need to Let it Go’

    Connie Britton opened up at a fireside chat Wednesday at the #BlogHer19 Creators Summit in Brooklyn by talking about one of her most beloved roles — Tami Taylor in the fan favorite series “Friday Night Lights.” When asked if a remake of the sports cult film and Emmy-winning TV show is in the works she [...]

  • Mariah Carey Tracee Ellis Ross

    Mariah Carey, Tracee Ellis Ross Celebrate Biracial Heritage at “Mixed-ish” Premiere

    Mariah Carey and Tracee Ellis Ross embraced their “ish” at Tuesday night’s series premiere event for ABC’s “Mixed-ish” by reflecting on how their biracial identity makes working on the new show even more personal. “I’m just so thankful that this show exists,” Carey told the assembled crowd during a Q&A with series creator Kenya Barris. [...]

  • #WorldIsInOurHands Campaign

    Rainn Wilson, Rosario Dawson, Joaquin Phoenix And More Join #WorldIsInOurHands Campaign

    At the 44th annual Toronto Film Festival last week, in addition to attending red-carpet premieres and promoting films, some stars also joined in the fight to tackle the climate crisis. Antonio Banderas, Susan Sarandon, Joaquin Phoenix, Rainn Wilson, Rosario Dawson, Neve Campbell and Alfre Woodard are among the bold-faced names to join forces with the [...]

  • Hopper Reserve

    Dennis Hopper's Dying Wish: His Own Strain of Marijuana

    Even as celebrity brands are starting to flood the emerging Cannabis market, Hopper Reserve stands out. The brand was launched by Marin Hopper, Dennis Hopper’s daughter from his marriage to Brooke Hayward. Hopper Reserve is a gram of California indoor-grown flower, two packs of rolling papers, a pair of matches and a trading card either [...]

  • Lowell Smokes Cafe Marijuana

    With Cannabis Lounges, On-Site Consumption, Marijuana-Infused Meals Go Legit

    Can this century’s Roaring ’20s repeat history but with pre-rolled joints instead of whiskey flasks and soccer moms as the new flappers? This month, West Hollywood will see the opening of the nation’s first at least quasi-legal cannabis consumption lounge, officially dubbed Lowell Farms: A Cannabis Café, located at 1211 N. La Brea between Fountain [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content