France has selected Emmanuel Finkiel’s “A Memoir of War” (“La Douleur”) as its official entry for the foreign-language Oscar race.
The French Oscar committee’s choice was announced late Friday amid a dust-up over the ineligibility of Olivier Assayas’ new film, “Non-Fiction,” which did not meet the French National Film Board’s theatrical release criteria for consideration as an Oscar candidate.
“A Memoir of War” is an adaptation of Marguerite Duras’ semi-autobiographical novel “The War: A Memoir.” Music Box Films acquired U.S. rights to the movie in February, shortly after it opened in theaters across France on Jan. 24.
Represented in international markets by TF1 Studio, the film stars Mélanie Thierry, who plays a young Duras and delivers a breakthrough performance. Thierry stars opposite Benoît Magimel, Benjamin Biolay, and Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet.
“A Memoir of War” takes place in June 1944, when France was still under German occupation, and follows Marguerite, then a young writer, who agrees to a series of covert meetings with Nazi collaborator Rabier. In exchange, Marguerite receives information on the whereabouts of her husband, Robert Antelme, a writer and major figure of the Resistance who has been detained and sent to the Dachau concentration camp.
Finkiel’s credits include “A Decent Man,” “Voyages” and “Madame Jacques on the Croisette.”
“A Memoir of War” was chosen over four other movies: Gaspar Noe’s “Climax,” which premiered at Cannes; Xavier Legrand’s “Custody”; Emmanuel Mouret’s “Mademoiselle de Joncquières”; and Claude Lanzmann’s “Les Quatre Soeurs.”
Assayas’ “Non-Fiction” was deemed ineligible because it will not meet France’s requirement of having been in wide release on dozens of screens by Sept. 30. The film, which premiered in Venice and was warmly received in Toronto, is not scheduled to hit French theaters until January. A request for a temporary permit to allow a brief Oscar-qualifying run was denied.
The French Oscar committee members are Thierry Frémaux, Cannes’ artistic director; Teresa Cremisi, president of the CNC’s advance on receipts commission; Alain Terzian, president of the Cesar Academy; Serge Toubiana, Unifrance president; the director Claire Denis; director/actress Nicole Garcia; and the producer Isabelle Madelaine.