Raphael Berdugo’s Paris-based Cité Films is heading to the MIA market with a slate of director-driven films, including the Marguerite Duras adaptation “Azuro,” and the politically-engaged documentary “Shirin Ebadi: Until We Are Free.”
Written and directed by Mathieu Rozé, “Azuro” is based on “The Little Horses of Tarquinia,” a lesser-known novel by Marguerite Duras published in 1953.
Rozé’s feature debut, “Azuro” shot this summer in the south of France, near Marseille, and is expected to be delivered in January. The film takes place over a summer and revolves around a group of friends who are enjoying their yearly holiday in their favorite little village, wedged between the sea and mountains. Their holiday routine gets turned upside down, however, when a mysterious stranger arrives from sea on a golden boat after a fire erupts on a nearby mountain.
The cast is headlined by Valerie Donzelli, the helmer-actor of “Declaration of War,” Nuno Lopez (“An Easy Girl”), Florence Loiret-Caille (“The Bureau”), Thomas Scimeca, Maya Sansa and Laetitia Dosch.
Cité Films, a film company founded in 1997 and run by Berdugo, is co-producing and handling international sales on “Azuro.”
“‘Azuro’ is a sensual and suspenseful film dealing with love, friendship, and the attraction, temptations and difficulties that couples face,” said Berdugo, an industry veteran who previously presided over the banner Roissy Films for more than 15 years before selling to EuropaCorp in 2008.
“Even though Duras’ novel was written in 1953, the way she portrays the complexities of these relationships is very modern and universal,” said Berdugo, who is participating in the MIA Market in Rome.
“Azuro” is produced by Tabo Tabo Films and Comic Strip Production, along with Cité Films.
Elsewhere, “Shirin Ebadi: Until We Are Free,” now in post production, is directed by Dawn Gifford Engle and tells the story of Ebadi, a heroic human rights lawyer defending women and children against the brutalities of the Iranian regime. Ebadi was the first Muslim woman to ever receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Ebadi has been harassed and spied on by the Iranian government which broke down her marriage, and took away her home, but the fearless lawyer has never given up on her mission, said Berdugo.
Cité Films is handling international sales on “Shirin Ebadi: Until We Are Free.” The documentary will soon be completed and Berdugo said he aims to have it premiere at a high-profile film festival such as Berlin or Cannes. Cité Films is also looking to bring partners from the U.S., Israeli and/or The Emirates on board.
The French outfit is also co-producing Alex Helfrecht’s “A Winter’s Journey,” a feature blending live-action, CGI and hand-painted backgrounds made by the creative teams behind “Despicable Me” and “Loving Vincent.” “A Winter’s Journey” stars Gaspard Ulliel and John Malkovich, and is being sold by MK2 Films.
Cité Films aims at co-producing and handling international sales on one or two movies per year. The banner’s recent credits include the critically acclaimed South American drama “The Desert Bride” which played at Cannes’ Un Certain Regard in 2017. Cité Films also boasts a library of classics by Michelangelo Antonioni, Federico Fellini, Jean-Luc Godard, Alain Resnais and Wim Wenders.