After delivering the Netflix original series “The Spy” with Sacha Baron Cohen, Alain Goldman’s Paris-based company, Legende, is on track to produce three more premium drama series: Yehonatan Indursky’s “Shtetl,” Olivier Dahan and Frédéric Krivine’s “Les Enfants du Paradis” (working title), and “Ulysse.”
“Les Enfants du Paradis” is being developed by Krivine, the creative force behind the long-running series “Un Village Francais,” and will explore the lives of artists, including Coco Chanel, Arletty and Jean Gabin, during the Nazi occupation of France. Dahan, the director of the Marion Cotillard-starrer “La Vie en Rose,” is attached to co-write and helm the series.
“‘Les Enfants du Paradis’ will shed light on the world of artists during World War II when Paris was occupied by the Germans, and will be backed by meticulous research as we’ll aim to stick to what happened during those years and portray the artists as they were. In many cases, audiences will be surprised by what they’ll discover,” said Goldman, who added that the series’ title refers to Marcel Carné’s 1945 film “Les Enfants du Paradis,” starring Arletty and Jean- Louis Barrault.
“Shtetl” is being written by Indursky, the creator of the critically acclaimed Israeli show “Autonomies,” which competed at Series Mania in 2018.
Set in 19th-century Ukraine, the series follows a Jewish family attempting to hide the body of a 15-year-old maid who was discovered in their home, a small village in the Ukrainian wilderness.
Goldman said the series would have the offbeat humour of the Coen brothers’ works and will be reminiscent of “Fiddler on the Roof.”
“Ulysse” is based on Murielle Szac’s bestselling books, “Le Feuilleton d’Ulysse,” which were praised for giving an original perspective on the adventures of the Ulysses of Greek mythology.
All three series are currently in development.
As Legende aims to produce more international films and TV series, Goldman – who is working in close collaboration with Legende’s co-managing directors, Axel Decis and Axelle Boucai, as well as Legende USA’s Molly Hallam — said the company will soon be opening offices in Central Europe and Israel, two key markets for drama series.
The company made a first move into high-profile international drama with the Netflix/OCS miniseries “The Spy,” which stars Baron Cohen as Eli Cohen, a spy for Israel in Syria in the early 1960s who embedded himself into Syrian high society and rose through the ranks of Syrian politics. Cohen’s actions helped shape the Middle East as it is today.
One of France’s leading production companies, Legende has had an international profile from its inception, starting with Ridley Scott’s “1492,” which came out in 1992. Among the company’s best-known films are “La Vie en Rose,” which earned Cotillard an Oscar, as well as “The Roundup.” Legende also co-produced Martin Scorsese’s “Casino.”
Legende recently delivered “The Mustang,” Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre’s film with Matthias Schoenaerts, which was recently released by Focus Features in the U.S. The movie, which world premiered at Sundance, had won the NHK award for best script at Sundance in 2015, and stars Schoenaerts as Roman Coleman, a violent convict who participates in a rehabilitation therapy program involving the training of wild mustangs. Goldman produced “The Mustang.” Robert Redford is an executive producer of the film.
Legende’s current pipeline includes Roman Polanski’s long-gestating passion project “J’accuse,” an adaptation of author Robert Harris’ novel “An Officer and a Spy.” “J’Accuse” is a historical espionage thriller charting the true story of Capt. Alfred Dreyfus, a French-Jewish soldier who was accused of spying for Germany and imprisoned on Devil’s Island in the 1890s before being exonerated of any wrongdoing years later.
The movie’s title refers to the 1898 open letter written by novelist Emile Zola accusing the French government of anti-Semitism. “J’Accuse” reteams Polanski with Harris, who co-penned “The Ghost Writer.”
Now in post-production, the movie is headlined by an all-star cast including Oscar-winning French actor Jean Dujardin (“The Artist”), Emmanuelle Seigner (“At Eternity’s Gate”), Louis Garrel (“Redoutable”) and Mathieu Amalric (“At Eternity’s Gate”). Gaumont is co-producing and set to distribute in France.
Goldman said “J’Accuse” would be told through the eyes of Georges Picquart, the French army officer and minister of war who played a decisive role in proving the innocence of Dreyfus and risked everything for the sake of truth and justice. “It’s going to be a sophisticated thriller with a tone and texture similar to Polanski’s ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ or ‘The Ghost Writer,'” said Goldman. “Although it happened at the turn of the 20th century, the Dreyfus case still resonates strongly today as we go through a wave of populism where everyone is looking for a scapegoat to blame, and xenophobia and anti-Semitism are rampant.”
“J’Accuse” is expected to be released in France on Nov. 20.