SAN SEBASTIAN — Rouge International co-founder Nadia Turincev, whose credits included the Oscar-nominated “The Insult,” “Raw” and “Mimosas,” has teamed with Omar El Kadi, head of acquisitions and sales, EMEA, at Lebanon’s MC Distribution, to launch Easy Riders Films, a new Paris-based production company.
If Easy Riders Films first titles are anything to go by – Latin American co-production “Perros,” 1941 Lebanon-set comedy “The Fifteen,” political romantic drama series “L’Âge d’Or,” Easy Riders looks set to pursue the adventurous, unconventional production line which has come to distinguish Turincev.
At the same time she and El Kadi have linked from the get-go with prestigious production partners around the globe and are backing projects put through the most illustrious of development programs.
“Perros,” for example, is directed by Cannes Cinéfondation Résidence 2019 winner Vinko Tomičić, is also produced by Chile’s Jirafa Films, behind Christopher Murray’s “The Blind Christ” and Alicia Scherson’s “Il Futuro,” and Mexico’s Zafiro Cinema, founded in 2018 by Gabriela Maire and Machete Producciones, which backed Cannes Camera d’Or winner “Leap Year,” Diego Quemada-Díez’s “La Jaula de Oro” and Juan Andrés Arango’s “V500.”
Presented at Guadalajara’s Co-Production Meeting by Tomičić and further producer Color Monster’s Alvaro Manzano, its near documentary techniques will immerse spectators in the world of Bolivian shoe-shines. But it plumbs a bedrock human relationship as one shoe-shine, 13-year-old orphan Martin, comes to believe that a client, Mr Novoa, a solitary tailor, is his biological father.
“It’s very moving but not miserablist, which for me is a condition sine qua non for boarding a project,” Turincev said at the San Sebastian Film Festival. “I don’t like miserabilism as a spectator nor producer. It’s like looking at characters from a balcony.”
Selected for the Venice Biennale College Cinema and EAVE Puentes, the Europe-Latin America film development workshop backed by the E.U. Media Program, and ALSO a recipient of Ibermedia Fund development coin, “Dogs” is scheduled to go into production in Spring 2020.
To be directed by talent-to-track Lebanese brothers Michel and Gaby Zarazir, who caught attention with their ALBA graduation short “Under the Robes,” and produced by Lebanon’s Madame Le Tapis and Easy Riders Films, “The Fifteen” is “a comedy about female empowerment, women in the clergy,” said Turincev. It is set in 1941 Lebanon, and centers on the redoubtable Matile, a mother of 11 children who rents out rooms of her sprawling house to bishops, in Beirut for business. When the occupying French Vichy army attempts to requisition her home as its base, she takes on its authorities and no less than the Catholic Church Cardinal for the Middle East. It will prove an unequal battle….
“The Fifteen” won a Best Screenplay Award from the French Institute and Lebanese Film Foundation, plus CineMed Montpellier development aid and support from Lebanon’s Ministry of Culture. It is slated to roll in Beirut in Spring 2020.
“As when I was at Rouge, we’re trying to produce films that give the feeling of not having being seen before,” said Turincev.
The same could be said for TV series. Adapting the novel of the same title by Diane Mazloum, “L’Âge d’Or” will take place in late ‘60s Lebanon, “rock, flares, insouciance, sun, the final days of a a Lebanese Golden Age, though nobody knew it as yet,” its synopsis runs. Described as a “romantic espionage drama,” it charts the affair between Georgina, “a young Christian of troubling beauty,” chosen as Miss Lebanon, then Miss World, and Ali Hassan Salameh, who becomes Yasser Arafat’s right hand man. “Their love story will have a scent of scandal,” the synopsis runs.
“LÂge d’Or” is currently in development at Easy Riders and Abbout Production, MC Distribution’s sister production company. The partners envisage a short format series of some six episodes, Turincev said.
Late ‘60s Lebanon is not the most obvious place for a film. “We try not to set ourselves any barriers,”said Turincev. “The absence of public funding makes producing in Lebanon a challenge, but challenges are fine by me. Producing must be a adventure, not just ticking boxes. Also, Lebanon’s industry is on the rise,” added Turincev, who lived in Lebanon for two years when Rouge Intl. was producing Ziad Doueiri’s “The Insult.”
Among other titles at Easy Riders is a film collective title shot in Okinawa.