Caroline Fourest, the respected French journalist, documentary filmmaker and feminist champion, is set to make her feature debut with “Red Snake,” an action-packed political film revolving around a battalion of Kurdish female warriors and international volunteers. The film, currently in pre-production, is being produced by Léo Maidenberg at Place du Marché and Jad Ben Ammar (the son of Tarak Ben Ammar) at Kador.
Inspired by true events, the film follows the story of Zara, a young Yazidi woman who is kidnapped and sold as a sex slave to an Isis fighter. Zara manages to escape and joins a battalion of fearless women from all over the world called the Snake brigade.
Through her journey, Zara bonds with other women, such as the nurturing Lina, who takes Zara under her wing; Kenza, a spunky French-Algerian; Clarisse, a religious African-American nicknamed “American Sniper”; and Yael, a French-Israeli who joins the squad as a nurse.
Although they hail from different backgrounds, the women all share a troubled or traumatic past that fuels their urge to accomplish one goal: bring down the fanatics who are raping and enslaving women and radicalizing the local youth. These female warriors are able to scare off Isis fighters who believe they will not get to heaven if they are killed by a woman.
Fourest has assembled a strong international cast headlined by rising stars Dilan Gwyn (“Beyond”) and Camélia Jordana (“Some Like It Veiled”), as well as Jasmine Trinca (“The Gunman”), Razane Jammal (“Djinn”) and Mark Ryder (“Borgia”). Korkmaz Arslan (“My Sweet Pepper Land”), Nanna Blondell (“Hassel”), Amira Casar (“Call Me by Your Name”) and Golshifteh Farahani (“Paterson”) complete the cast.
Fourest, who has directed as many as 21 socially and politically engaged documentaries, said she started developing “Red Snake” following the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris in January 2015. Fourest wrote the script based on meetings and conversations with dozens of Yazidi survivors and Kurdish warriors, Peshmergas (members of the armed forces in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish-controlled region) or from the guerilla.
“I was inspired by all these brave women from different parts of the world who have voluntarily joined the Kurdish resistance against Isis, and how these sisters of combat are rejecting the status of victims and fighting back,” Fourest said.
“It’s a story about the power of women which I think will strike a chord in our society – these female fighters won the last worldwide war for us,” added Fourest, who was made Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters in France, one of the country’s highest honors.
Describing “Red Snake” as a “Zero Dark Thirty” meets “Land and Freedom,” Fourest said the idea was to deliver a political film with strong female figures, action scenes and a coming-of-age element which will be universal enough to appeal to international audiences. The movie will shoot in English, French, Kurdish and Arabic, and is meant to have a stylized look thanks to a crew that includes cinematographer Romain Lacourbas (“Marco Polo,” “Colombiana,” “Taken 2”).
“Red Snake” has been pre-bought by French pubcaster France 2 and Italian distribution company Eagle. The producers are in talks with sales agents and distributors in France.
Shooting is expected to start in February.