London-based Noah Media Group is joining forces with Paris-headquartered Federation Entertainment on “Arsène Wenger: Invincible,” a feature documentary portraying the French soccer pioneer who changed the landscape of the English Premier League.
“Arsène Wenger: Invincible” is being directed by Gabriel Clarke, the British filmmaker whose BBC docu “Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans” was part of Cannes 2020’s Official Selection, and is co-directed by Christian Jeanpierre, a well-known sports journalist.
French pay TV group Canal Plus has commissioned the documentary which is set to be narrated by Wenger himself. Spanning the U.K., France and Japan, the feature-length documentary will also feature key figures from Wenger’s career, and interviews with some of the biggest names in world football, as well as from the Arsenal soccer club’s team of 2003-2004 which Wenger managed and to this day remains the only Premier League side to go an entire season unbeaten.
“Arsène Wenger: Invincible” will boast unseen archive and showcase original and intimate filming with Wenger, who has remained an enigmatic figure all these years. His journey started out in London in 1996 when he was appointed to manage Arsenal. Facing a barrage of criticism, and to some extent xenophobia, Wenger became Arsenal’s most successful manager since Herbert Chapman in the 1930s and transformed the Premier League over the course of his 22-year career.
“This documentary highlights a very special period in my life and career. I have total confidence in the team and the production companies,” said Wenger. “Gabriel and Christian are probably the only directors who could persuade me to do this documentary! I will try to give the best of my memories and my life story!” added Wenger.
Weil told Variety that “Arsène Wenger: Invincible” “will not be a typical sports documentary as it will have a strong cinematic appeal and a sophisticated narrative structure.”
“‘Arsene Wenger is a mythical figure whose story can inspire many people, even those who aren’t soccer fans because it’s about an expat who was treated as an outsider when he entered the world of English soccer and ultimately thrived through hard work and dedication, paving the way for others to have an international career,” said Myriam Weil, who heads Federation’s recently-launched documentary division. The executive also pointed out that the documentary would be a true collaboration between French and British creatives and producers.
Noah Media Group is behind some of the most popular recent sports documentaries, notably Netflix’s “Bobby Robson: More than a Manager,” Amazon’s “The Edge,” and “Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans.”
“My friendship with Christian pre-dates even the Wenger era in North London and for some time it has been our ambition to combine on this project. As broadcasters we both covered Arsène’s stunning transformation of English football that peaked with Arsenal’s invincible season of 2004,” said Clarke.
The filmmaker said “this documentary will aim to do justice to an achievement that becomes more impressive with each passing season… Thanks to Arsène’s trust and insight, we also aim to reveal the man behind the enigmatic, urbane and driven figure, obsessed with achieving perfection on the football field.”
Jeanpierre said he had been following “an exceptional generation of players (Vieira, Henry, Pires, Bergkamp, and more…) led by a coach who achieved something that was not even imaginable! By making this documentary with Gabriel, I aim to make people live this fantastic period all over again.”
International sales on the doc are being jointly handled by Federation Entertainment and NoahX, the sales and distribution of Noah Media Group. NoahX will be coordinating a theatrical and transactional release in the U.K. Yvette Production was a co-producer of the docu.
The documentary will launch on Canal Plus in early 2022. “Canal Plus is the official broadcaster of Premier League in France, and this exclusive documentary gives us the opportunity to share the fascinating life story and the extraordinary achievements of Arsène Wenger, told by himself for the first time, with our subscribers who are
passionate about soccer,” said Christine Cauquelin, the head of documentaries at Canal Plus Group.
“Arsène Wenger: Invincible” is the fourth project set up at Federation’s documentary division. The banner previously delivered the soccer-themed “Varane: Destin de Champion” for Amazon, and “Les Bleus: At the Heart of the Russian Epic” for TF1 and Amazon. Federation Entertainment is currently producing “A Stolen Life,” a documentary that is being directed by award-winning filmmaker Anissa Bonnefont (“Wonder Boy”). “A Stolen Life” started shooting last month and is expected to be completed in late 2021. Federation also previously handled Baptiste Antignani’s “A lifetime Apart,” which follows a French teenager who unexpectedly bonds with a Holocaust survivor during a high-school assignment about the Shoah.
Federation Entertainment is at Canneseries with multiple shows in competition, notably Amir Chamdin’s Swedish thriller “Partisan,” Carine Van Houten’s “Red Light” and the French show “Cheyenne et Lola.”