Studiocanal, the film-TV production-distribution affiliate of Vivendi’s Canal Plus Group, will bring onto the market at Berlin one of France’s biggest plays of the year: “Un peuple, et son roi” (“One Nation, One King”), which Studiocanal will open in France on Sept. 26.
Budgeted at €16.9 million ($20.8 million), “One Nation, One King” is director Pierre Schoeller’s (“The Minister”) attempt to convey the scale of events of the 1789 French Revolution from the point of view of ordinary people, who for the first time were able to power events and develop a national consciousness instead of remaining passive victims.
Those revolutionaries are represented by two of France’s most-awarded young leads: Gaspard Ulliel, who won a best actor Cesar Award for Xavier Dolan’s “It’s Only the End of the World,” and Adèle Haenel, Cesar-nominated four times in the last decade, winning supporting actress for “Suzanne” and actress for “Love at First Fight.” Olivier Gourmet (“The Son”), Louis Garrel (“Mon Roi”) and Laurent Lafitte (“Elle”) complete key cast.
“One Nation, One King” is produced by Denis Freyd at Archival 35, a long-term production partner of double Cannes Palme d’Or winners Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. Freyd has worked with the Dardennes from “The Son” to their most recent feature, “The Unknown Girl.”
“‘One Nation, One King’ is a really inspirational and epic drama,” said Anne Cherel, Studiocanal’s head of international sales. “There are quite a lot of French films about the revolution and about Versailles, but not on this scale.” Cherel compared the film to “La Reine Margot ” and said its grass-roots POV made it “more interesting, modern and new.”
With six new titles at the European Film Market, Studiocanal has a slate with novelties that underscore multiple strategic focuses at the European powerhouse.
One is a wave of development of English-language projects over 2016-17 which saw early fruit in Liam Neeson’s “Hard Powder,” and now three fresh titles.
The novelties also suggest Studiocanal’s continued commitment to family entertainment; the drive into French- and German-language production with international potential; and an association with high-profile creative talent, above and below the line, such as Idris Elba (“The Wire,” “Luther,” “Thor”), Jacques Perrin (“Winged Migration”), James Caan (“The Godfather”) and Catherine Deneuve (“Belle de Jour,” “Potiche”).
Produced by Perrin at Galatée Films, Gilles de Maistre’s “Mia and the White Lion” stars Melanie Laurent (“Now You See Me,” “Inglourious Basterds”) and Langley Kirkwood (“The Catch,” “Black Sails,” “Banshee”) in a family adventure film, shot over three years in South Africa, about a 13-year-old girl who develops a rare and special bond with a wild lion.
“People love titles which are marvelously executed and have something really magic and unique,” said Cherel, adding that Studiocanal will release “Mia” in France on Dec. 26. “We are realizing it has huge potential for Christmas holidays for families.”
“Yardie” is Elba’s directorial debut, produced by the U.K.’s Warp Films (“This is England,” “Four Lions,” “Submarine”). Part gangland revenge thriller, part coming-of-age period piece, infused with Caribbean locations, culture and patois, “Yardie” segues from a Sundance world premiere to Berlinale’s Panorama.
Toplining James Caan, Tom Hollander, Rosanna Arquette, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Efrat Dor and shot mainly in Israel, “Holy Lands” follows Harry Rosenmerck (Caan), a Jewish-American cardiologist who gives up everything to become a pig farmer in Israel. But his life crosses once more with his estranged son David (Meyers), a successful gay playwright, and his ex-wife, now terminally ill. Writer-turned-director Amanda Sthers (“Madame”) adapted her own novel which is a “universal depiction of a dysfunctional family struggling to express their love for one another and accept each other the way they are,” she told Variety.
“Amanda Sthers is really good at finding the finest way to mix drama and comedy, this time in a film turning on family,” Cherel said. “When you finish the film, you want to call your family and say that you love them and try to have some good times with them because you realize how quickly things can go.”
“Bad Seeds” stars Deneuve and André Dussollier (“A Heart in Winter,” “My Golden Days”). It is directed by Kheiron, whose debut, “All Three of Us,” sold a highly creditable 650,322 tickets (around $5 million) in France. Deneuve plays a small scam artist forced to go straight working at a support organization for trouble teens. Cherel said the role was very different from Deneuve’s past roles.
“The Silent Revolution,” directed by Lars Kraume, is screening as a Berlinale Special. It was part of Studiocanal’s slate in Berlin last year. The film stars Joerdis Triebel (“Dark”) and Ronald Zehrfeld (“The People vs. Fritz Bauer”), and tells the true-life story of a class of students who in 1956 stood up to the East German regime. They finally decide to flee together to West Germany.
Combining a handsome young cast, strong period production values and urgent ethical questions, “Silent Revolution” tackles “a question we face everyday: What is the best way to battle authority, to express the fact we do not agree and to support other people? There is something very modern to the film’s students,” Cherel said.