France’s top producer Hugo Selignac, who had a banner year in 2018 with “Sink or Swim” and “In Safe Hands,” is set to produce the next projects of high-profile filmmakers Cedric Jimenez (“The Man With the Iron Heart”) and Quentin Dupieux (“Deerskin”).
Jimenez’s project, “Bac Nord,” is an ambitious thriller following a police brigade working in the dangerous northern neighborhoods of Marseille, where the level of crime is higher than anywhere else in France.
“Bac Nord” will be headlined by a strong cast of French stars, including Gilles Lellouche, the director “Sink or Swim” and actor of “Little White Lies 2,” as well as Francois Civil (“Wolf’s Call”), who just won the Chopard Trophy Award for rising talent; Karim Leklou, who earned a Cesar nomination for best newcomer for his performance in “The World Is Yours”; Adele Exarchopoulos (“Blue Is the Warmest Color”); and Kenza Fortas, who just won best female newcomer at the Cesar Awards for her role in “Shéhérazade.”
Although the film boasts a similar gritty backdrop to Cannes’ competition highlight “Les Miserables,” “Bac Nord” has a more action-driven approach and is based on a true scandal involving two cops working in the tough neighborhoods of Marseille who were involved in drug trafficking and got caught by authorities.
Jimenez said “Bac Nord” will be told from the perspective of the cops, who are put under pressure from their hierarchy to achieve results at all costs in an area where crime is rampant.
A native of Marseille, Jimenez penned the script with Audrey Diwan, his co-screenwriter of “The Connection” and the Rosamund Pike-starrer “The Man With the Iron Heart,” in collaboration with Benjamin Charbit (“En liberté!”). Comparing the project with his last two movies, Jimenez said “Bac Nord” would have the same underlying theme of people who are being crushed by their hierarchies. The movie will start shooting on Aug. 5 with a budget of €13.2 million, making it one of France’s highest-bracket films slated for next year.
Dupieux, whose latest film, “Deerskin” with Jean Dujardin opened Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight, will next write and direct “Mandibules,” an offbeat comedy about two simple-minded friends who discover a giant fly stuck in the trunk of a car and decide to domesticate it to earn money with it.
Budgeted at €4.9 million, “Mandibules” will start shooting in September, with Denis Menochet (“The French Dispatch”), Anais Demoustier, who stars in Directors’ Fortnight player “Alice and the Mayor,” David Marsais (“Santa & Cie”), Gregoire Ludig (“Au Poste!”) and Exarchopoulos.
A critically laureled fantasist filmmaker, Dupieux is best known for writing and helming “Rubber,” about a homicidal tire, as well as “Wrong,” which competed at Sundance in 2012, and “Realité” which played at Venice in 2014.
Both “Bac Nord” and “Mandibules” will mark Selignac’s first collaboration with Dupieux and Jimenez. The young producer was featured in Variety’s 10 Producers to Watch last year and earned a combined 17 Cesar nominations (France’s equivalent to the Oscars) for Lellouche’s ensemble comedy-drama “Sink or Swim,” which world premiered in Cannes and was one of the highest-grossing French films of 2018, and “In Safe Hands.” Although he’s producing “Bac Nord” and “Mandibules” solo, Selignac is a frequent producing partner of Alain Attal, who won last year’s Toscan du Plantier prize for the best French producer and shared it with Selignac.