PARIS – Playing off often long-term relationships with some of the most talked-about up-and-coming directors in French cinema, Wild Bunch will unveil nine new French productions at this week’s UniFrance Rendez-vous with French Cinema, including pristine titles from Valerie Donzelli (“Declaration of War”), Joann Sfar (“Gainsbourg,” “The Rabbi’s Cat”), Lucile Hadzihalilovic (“Innocence”) and Elie Wajeman (“Aliyah”).
Also sold by Wild Bunch, Patrice Leconte’s comedy “Do Not Disturb” (pictured) opens the UniFrance Rendez-vous.
Wajeman’s new film, “The Anarchists,” will star one of the hottest pairings in French cinema: Tahar Rahim (“A Prophet”) and Adele Exarchopoulos (“Blue is the Warmest Color”).
Also making the cut: New films by Bruno Podalydes (“Park Benches”), Philippe Garrel (“Jealousy”) Luc Jacquet (“March of the Penguins”), the feature debut of actor-turned-director Olivier Loustau, and Damien Odoul (“Le souffle,” “The Story of Richard O.”).
Amping up its French film slate to 12-13 titles, a large step-up in volume from one year ago, Wild Bunch already announced at the American Film Market Julie Delpy’s “Lolo,” Eric Hannezo’s “Rabid Dogs,” a remake of Mario Bava’s 1974 modern classic, and an untitled new Jacques Audiard title, about Sri Lankan Tamil exiles in Paris, which it co-sells with Celluloid Dreams,
In what looks like one of the highlights of the market, Wild Bunch will give a promo-reel invitation-only screening for buyers on Friday at the UniFrance Rendez-vous.
Donzelli’s fifth feature, “Marguerite and Julien” adapts “L’Histoire de Julien et Marguerite,” a screenplay written in 1971 by Jean Grault for François Truffaut, but which Truffaut never shot. Donzelli’s relationship with Wild Bunch goes back to “Declaration of War” and takes in “Hand in Hand.” A love story between a brother and sister, set by Grault in the Middle Ages, the tale has been adapted as “a costume love story, but with many modern and contemporary elements. So it will be extremely original,” Wild Bunch partner Vincent Maraval told Variety. Pic has just moved into post-production. Wild Bunch will show photos to buyers at the UniFrance Rendez-vous, aims to have a promo ready for Berlin.
Produced by Patrick Godeau and Jacques-Henri Bronkaert, Joann Sfar’s new film, “The Lady in the Car With Glasse and A Guns,” is based on the book of the same title and live action. It’s “a very mysterious thriller, very visual, very sexy,” said Maraval. “Lady” stars Elio Germano, Stacy Martin and an actress Maraval tips as a new young star of French cinema, Freya Mavor. “When people see the promo at the Rendez-vous, they will remember her,” he commented.
Daniel Odoul’s “The Fear,” – Wild Bunch has handled all his first three features – turns on an innocent sent to fight in World War I, adapting the novel of the same title by Gabriel Chevallier. Jean-Pierre Guerin produces for JPG Films “Farewell My Queen”) with Gerard Lacroix for Tu Vas Voir “Deep Breath,” “Errance”). “It’s a strong, visually very impressive film,” Maraval commented.
Having worked on his first three films, including “Park Benches” and “Granny’s Funeral,” Wild Bunch will also sell the fourth feature with Bruno Poyaldes, “Sweet Escape.” Per Maraval, “It’s still very much his style but now going the way of Wes Anderson, with a more absurdist humor.” Described as a “pastoral adventure,” the comedy centers on a middle-age graphic design company manager who discover a new world when he takes up kayaking.
Selling several Garrel movies, including Venice competition player “Jealousy,” Wild Bunch will re-up with him on “In the Shadow of Women,” with Stanislas Merhar (“Almayer’s Folly”) and Clotilde Corau (“La Vie en rose”).
After handling his three previous titles – “March of the Penguins,” “The Fox and the Child” and “Once Upon a Forest” – Wild Bunch will also rep the fourth movie by Luc Jacquet, “Ice and the Sky,” produced by Eskwad. Using a mix of archive footage and staged drama, it turns on Claude Lorius, a French scientist who discovered climate change. Pathe Distribution releases in France Oct. 28. “Ice and the Sky” recereates Lorius’ early days in the ‘50s and ‘60s “when doing research was like being an adventurer, an explorer. Its first part is like an adventure film,” per Maraval. Pic then accompanies Lorius to the places where he saw the effects of climate change to see what, if anything, is different.
Described by Maraval as “like a Japanese genre movie, a mysterioys and atmospheric film on the border between genre and reality,” and Hadzihalilovic’s follow-up to “Innocence,” which Wild Bunch also sold, “Evolution” is set on a island which is inhabited only by women– who all look alike and young boys.
“Sometimes we follow actors, not directors,” said Maraval. Reprising its relationship with Exarchopoulos, star of Kechiche’s “Blue Is the Warmest Color,” a Wild Bunch title, the sales company is also introducing in Paris “The Anarchists,” Wajeman’s second film, and first with Wild Bunch. Also starring Rahim, it weighs in as a historical thriller, set in Paris in 1899 as the anarchists movement gains strength. Rahim plays an army corporal sent to infiltrate their reanks, who falls for their leader’s girlfriend (Exarchopoulos) and is forced to choose between his duty and his heart.
This is the pairing of probably the biggest stars of tomorrow in French cinema, a very sexy couple, and the story dealing with a period of French history that is not really seen in the French cinema,” Maraval said.
One director on Wild Bunch’s new slate is a first timer. The feature debut of actor Olivier Loustau, who appeared in Abdellatif Kechiche’s “The Secret of the Grain” and “Black Venus,” “The Boss’ Daughter” is a “social drama-love story from a very, very interesting director,” Maraval said. It stars Loustau, Christa Theret and Florence Thomassin and turns on a relationship between a 40-year-old factory foreman and the daughter, 25, of its owner, though he doesn’t know that. It is set against the weekend rugby matches played by the factory’s team, the only event that brings workers and management together. Julie Gayet, who helped found Wild Bunch 17 years ago, and Nadia Turincev produce for Rouge Intl.
Wild Bunch still aims for original, often risky movies, Maraval said. That said, most directors on its slate started or made early movies with the Paris-based sales house. For some, the new films now mark their maturity, Maraval argued.
“Marguerite et Julien,” for example, is “the accomplishment of a style, of a universe. It’s really a movie that looks like a Valerie Donzelli movie but is also a more ambitious than what she did before.” “The Fear” is likewise Odoul’s “most ambitious film to date, the first time he has worked on a big budget,” Maraval added.
Some helmers are opening up: “’Jealousy’ was regarded as probably Philippe Garrel’s most open film, and it’s true that the older he gets the more open he gets, the more he speaks about more universal subjects. His last two or three films are more about the modern day, the relationships between young people today,” Maraval commented.
Directors who started with Wild Bunch, and are now on their fourth or fifth film, may now have the opportunity to be more ambitious, Maraval argued. “You don’t need a big budget to make a good commercial film but the directors we have accompanied are ambitious people. Some of the ideas that they have could not be made into films immediately because they need money.” With more proven track records, that money is more often available,” Maraval commented.
Other new films rep a change of direction. In some cases, directors “may also be fed up being confidential. I don’t think they think in terms of ‘the market is too tough so we have to do more mainstream film. They are thinking about themselves.”
Maraval added: “They say it’s always good to have good reviews, but after three or four films you also want audiences or may try for something more classical: People admire John Ford, Howard Hawks, Hitchcock, Truffaut, and these were commercial directors.