France’s Other Angle Acquires ‘Forests,’ ‘DieuMerci,’ West Coast,’ ‘Machin, Machine’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Paris-based sales agent moves into English-language, foreign, arthouse acquisitions

France’s Other Angle Acquires ‘Forests,’ ‘DieuMerci,’

Paris-based Other Angle Pictures, headed by Olivier Albou and Laurence Schonberg, has acquired international sales rights to four new films – Safy Nebbou’s “In the Forests of Siberia,” Lucien Jean Baptiste’s “DieuMerci,” Benjamin Weill’s “West Coast” and “Machin, Machine,”helmed by and starring Clovis Cornillac.

Shooting from Feb. 12, and the latest title in Nebbou’s building body of distinguished stage or literary makeovers (“Mark of a Angel,” “Dumas,” “Bad Seeds”), “In the Forests of Siberia” is inspired by Sylvain Tesson’s novel, translated into English as “The Consolations of the Forest: Alone in a Cabin on the Siberian Taiga,” which won the 2014 Dolman Best Travel Book Award.

Written by Nebbou and David Oelhoffen, now a director of repute after his directorial debut, “Far From Men,” with Viggo Mortensen, “Forests of Siberia” stars Raphael Personnaz (“The French Minister,” “Anna Karenina”). It relates the friendship between a man looking for peace, living in a cabin on the shores of Lake Baikal in Siberia, and an outlaw who yearns to return to civilization, played by Russian actor Evgeniy Sidikhin (“Attack on Leningrad,” “A Woman in Berlin”). Headed by Christophe Rossignon and Philippe Boeffard, Nord-Ouest Films, which has backed films by Michel Ocelot, Christian Carion and Philippe Lioret, produces.

Produced by Vertigo, the company behind The Other Angle-sold “The Last Diamond,” shooting for seven weeks from Jan. 12 in and around Paris, and aiming for an

August/September delivery, “DieuMerci” stars Jean-Baptiste, Baptiste Lecaplain (“High Society”), Michel Jonasz (“The Valet”) and Firmine Richard (“8 Women”). Jean-Baptiste, Jonasz and Richard played major roles in “First Star,” Jean Baptiste’s breakthrough debut.

“DieuMerci” features an unexpected encounter between a middle-aged French-African ex-con who dreams of becoming an actor, and a young spoiled untalented bourgeois acting student. Against all odds, they help each become better people and realize their dreams.

A Mars Film release in France, “West Coast” is the latest film from producer Eric Jehelmann, whose credits include “Little Nicholas,” “Second Chance” and current sleeper “La Famille Belier.” In the vein of the Other Angle-sold “The French Kissers,” per Albou– which Variety described as “a zits-and-all portrait of the weird, wild and incredibly awkward time of adolescence” – it turns on four nerdy big city teens who try to mimic their American rap idols but, dispatched to Britanny’s coast, clash with the local populace. Pic marks the directorial debut of editor Benjamin Weill (“Point Blank,” “Dog Pound,” “The Players”).

Directed by famed thesp Cornillac, (“Asterix at the Olympic Games,” “Eden Log”), “Machin Machine,” as it is tentatively titled, is a romantic comedy starring Cornillac and Melanie Bernier (“Delicacy”). Paramount will release in France in the spring. It turns on two neighbors who live on two sides of the same wall and start a relationship without seeing each other.

Fast emerging as one of France’s most prominent mainstream sales agents, Other Angle is also readying five films – among them, a quartet of world premieres, led by social comedy “Discount” – to unspool at this week’s Paris-set UniFrance Rendez-vous, which kicks off Thursday.

Both in completed films and productions, Other Angle’s RDV slate features repeat-business: It launched in 2009 at the UniFrance Rendez-vous touting Jean Baptiste’s debut “The First Star,” one of France’s early comedy breakouts abroad. Film-by-film alliances with some of France’s most go-ahead distributors – such as Wild Bunch Distribution on “DieuMerci” and “Discount” – copious sales on 2014 breakout “Babysitting” and Berenice Bejo starrer “The Last Diamond,” as well as imminent announcements of further English-language titles after Other Angle launched Uma Thurman starrer “Night and Fog” at November’s American Film Market, are all further signs of second-phase growth at the six-year-old sales agent.

Produced by “Resident Evil’s” Jeremy Bolt, and based on true events – World War II British intelligence service employee Vera Atkins’ interrogation of her Gestapo counterpart over the fate of women spies sent to Occupied France during the war, “’Night and Fog’ sold really well for us at the American Film Market,” said Albou.

“For us, one important next step is to move into more international English-speaking films. We’re currently discussing several titles and aim to announce more films in 2015,” he added.

“2014 was also the first year we had two films in Cannes Official Selection: ‘The Go-Go Boys,’ in Cannes Classics, and ‘Incompresa’ by Asia Argento, in Un Certain Regard. French mainstream movies remains our core business but we are really trying to expand into more arthouse films and more non-French films,” Albou said.

Set for a Jan. 21 release by Wild Bunch Distribution, “Discount” has been building buzz since it won the Angouleme Festival Audience Award. It weighs in as one of the Rendez-vous’ possible comedy standouts. A comedic paean to solidarity in crisis in the vein of “Brassed Off,” said Albou, it turns on a five French hard discount store workers who, soon to be substituted by automatic check-out machines, create a roaring business out of selling the store’s fruits and vegetables, which otherwise would be thrown away, at a large markdown to the poor.

Marking the feature debut of both director Louis-Julien Petit and producer Liza Benguigui at Elemiah, “Discount” “deals with a highly contemporary issue of the poor getting poorer, but getting together to outsmart the system. Films that do well at Angouleme often do well in France so we have very high hopes for ‘Discount,’” Albou enthused.

Also world premiering in Paris: “The Art Dealer,” from Francois Margolin (“Flight of the Red Balloon”); Stefano Consiglio’s “L’Amore non perdona”; and Jonathan Elpert’s “House of Time.”

Based on true events, “Dealer” stars Michel Bouquet (“Renoir”) and a strong ensemble cast headed by Robert Hirsch, Francois Berleand and Niels Schneider. It follows a Jewish woman who, attempting to recover family paintings stolen by the Nazis, stumbles across family secrets best left hidden.

“A psychological thriller with a time-travel twist,” Albou said, “House of Time” turns on a billionaire whose guests test a time-traveling machine, which apparently takes them back to 1944 Nazi-occupied France. A German Camera Award winner in 2013 for short “Black Enchantment,” Elpert makes his feature debut with “Time.”

Produced by Fabio Conversi’s Babe Films, and starring Ariane Ascaride, who is fresh off “Les Heritiers” which has grossed €2.6 million ($3.15 million) to date in France, melodrama “Amore” tells the tale of an impossible love story between a nurse in her sixties and a young Arab laborer.

Other Angle will also screen at the UniFrance Rendez-vous “The Go-Go Boys,” the tale of the rise and fall of Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus’ Cannon Films, an icon of the glory glory days of the VHS-fuelled independent movie business.