Cedric Kahn, whose latest film “The Prayer” is competing at the Berlin Film Festival, is re-teaming with producer Sylvie Pialat on his next outing, “Joyeux Anniversaire,” which will bring together Catherine Deneuve, Emmanuelle Bercot and Vincent Macaigne.
A drama laced with biting comedy, “Joyeux Anniversaire” charts a family reunion which takes an unexpected turn. Unfolding over 24 hours, the movie stars Deneuve as a mother of two who gathers her loved ones to celebrate her birthday in her big house near the Loire Valley. The festivities are disrupted by the arrival of her daughter (Bercot), who is known for her unpredictable outbursts.
Kahn, who is also a well-known French actor but has never starred in his own films, will topline as one of Deneuve’s children. Bercot herself previously directed Deneuve in “On My Way” and “Standing Tall,” which opened the Cannes Film Festival in 2015.
Pialat, who is producing via her Paris-based banner Les Films du Worso, said the film’s humor will be driven by the sharp dialogue. “The script is very strong,” she said. “It’s Cedric Kahn’s most personal film and that’s why he stars in it.”
Pialat, whose credits include “Stranger by the Lake” and “Timbuktu,” said she was eager to continue working with Kahn after “The Prayer,” one of two French films in competition at the Berlinale. Pialat described “The Prayer” as a film that “resonates today because it talks about a young man in despair who conquers his addictions thanks to solidarity and spirituality.”
Jean Labadie’s Le Pacte, which will be releasing “The Prayer” in France on March 21, has taken French distribution rights to “Joyeux Anniversaire.” The new project will start shooting June 18 for an expected delivery early next year.
Pialat is rolling off Xavier Beauvois’ “The Guardians,” a critically and commercially successful World War I drama which world premiered at Toronto and has so far grossed more than €3.4 million at the French box office since its Dec. 6 release It has received four Cesar nominations.
Besides Kahn’s next film, Pialat is also producing the feature debuts of two promising filmmakers, Aude Lea Rapin, whose short “Ton coeur au hasard” swept three awards at Clermont Ferrand, and Hu Wei, whose 2013 short “Butter Lamp” earned an Oscar nomination after winning the Discovery Award at Cannes’ Critics’ Week.
Rapin’s film, “Les Heroes ne meurent jamais,” takes place in contemporary Bosnia, a country still reeling from the Balkan wars. The film, set to start shooting July 3, will star Adèle Haenel (“BPM”) and Jonathan Couzinié. Couzinié appeared in “Ton coeur au hasard,” and stars opposite Gaspard Ulliel and Gérard Depardieu in Guillaume Nicloux’s “Les confins du monde,” which Pialat is also producing.
Wei, whom Pialat met through Critics’ Week’s residency program, Next Step, is currently developing “Le syndrome de l’iceberg” (working title), a drama about a French couple who are facing doubts about whether their adopted 6-year son from China was an orphan in the first place. The film will be set in Paris. Pialat will produce with a Chinese partner.
Pialat’s slate also includes Corneliu Porumboiu’s black comedy “Gomera,” which just started shooting, and Nicloux’s Indochina war-set drama, which marks his follow-up to “The End” and the Palme d’Or contender “Valley of Love.”