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France’s Les Armateurs Primes ‘The Swallows of Kabul’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Kabul-set love tragedy one of the big projects at prestige Paris-based animation powerhouse

Paris-based prestige animation house Les Armateurs has set “The Swallows of Kabul” – a big-screen transfer of Yasmine Khadra’s celebrated novel – as one of its flagship feature film productions.

The other, “French Riviera,” with Studiocanal, is also in development. Actress-director Zabou Breitman, who won a best first film Cesar for 2001 directorial debut “Beautiful Memories,” is attached to co-direct with 28-year-old Elea Gobbe-Mevellec, a rising star of French animation not only for her lyrical 2008 short “Escale,” but also her work on “Ernest and Celestine.”

Gobbe-Mevellec is oversee “Swallows’” graphic design; “Swallows” shares “Celestine’s” 2D water-color-textured graphics, said Les Armateurs president Reginald de Guillebon.

A gripping tragic love story set in 2001’s Afghanistan, then under the Taliban, “Swallows” turns on two couples, Atiq, a jailer in a women’s prison, and Mussarat, his ailing wife, who have been married for 20 years and hardly talk to each other; and Zunaira, a former lawyer, and her husband, once a university lecturer, young and in love, but forbidden, from exercising their professions.

Bookended by two public executions of women – one for alleged adultery, the other for the alleged murder of her husband – though it packs an open-ended finale, “Swallows” rotundly condemns the treatment of women by religious fanatics – their segregation, humiliation, repression, torture – and portrays the misery of life under Taliban rule. It is also memorable, however, for its acts of heroism, live and sacrifice.

“The screenplay is fantastic. We really have a shot a making a beautiful film,” said De Guillebon.

De Guillebon and Ivan Rouveure produce for Les Armateurs, which co-produces with France’s Mysteo, which is run by Julien Monestiez and Denis Volte. “Swallows” will be Mysteo’s first feature film. “Swallows” is set for release in late 2017.

Sebastien Tavel and Patricia Mortagne co-penned the screenplay for the project that was initiated by Monestiez,when Les Armateurs founder Didier Brunner presided the company.

Les Armateurs has produced a pilot of this study of the consequences of religious fanaticism that looks like major festival fare.

Yasmine Khadra is a pen name for Mohammed Moulessehoul, a former Algerian army major who gave up his military career to live in France and write from 2000.

Les Armateurs is still working on the screenplay of “Frech Riviera,” after a version by U.S. screenwriting duo Joel Cohen and Alec Sokolow (“Toy Story,” “Garfield,” “Garfield 2”). In animation, “the story, the story, the story is the great thing,” De Guillebon said.

A decision will be taken on whether “French Riviera is shot in 3D with a rendering in 2D or 3D on receipt of final screenplay, Rouveure added.

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