Cedric Jimenez to Direct Anti-Terrorism Investigation Thriller ‘November’ Starring Jean Dujardin (EXCLUSIVE)

Cedric Jimenez
Jens Kalaene/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Cedric Jimenez, the French director of “The Connection,” the Rosamund Pike-starrer “HHhH” and “Bac Nord,” will next be directing “November,” an action-packed thriller set against the backdrop of the Paris terror attacks of 2015 with a prestigious cast led by Oscar-winning Jean Dujardin (“The Artist”), Anais Demoustier (“Alice and The Mayor”) and Sandrine Kiberlain (“In Safe Hands”).

Written by Olivier Demangel, the screenwriter of Mati Diop’s “Atlantics,” “November” unfolds during the five days following the attacks which shook Paris, and revolves around the sprawling investigation carried on by a highly-secretive police brigade called SDAT (anti-terrorist sub-directorate) to track down the terrorists – including the two masterminds — behind the attacks.

Budgeted at $20 million, “November” is produced by Hugo Selignac at Chi-Fou-Mi Films (“Sink or Swim,” “The Wolf’s Call,””The World is Yours”), who had teamed with Jimenez on “Bac Nord,” and Mathias Rubin at Recifilms. Studiocanal is co-producing and is handling French distribution, as well as international sales on the film, whose shooting will kick off May 17.

The diverse cast is completed by Jeremy Renier (“Slalom”), Lynda Khoudri, the “Papicha” actress who won last year’s Cesar for best female newcomer, Sami Outalbali (“Sex Education”), Stephane Bak (“The French Dispatch”), Cedric Kahn (“After Love”), Sofia Khammes (“The World is Yours”).

Jimenez, whose feature debut, “The Connection,” and latest film, “Bac Nord,” have explored nuances and aspects of the French police and crime underworld, will this time shine a spotlight on the unsung heroes of this police unit.

The director said “November” will show how these agents, whom he described as the elite of the French police for their intelligence, qualifications and commitment, fiercely chased the perpetrators of the Paris assaults over five days. Their mission succeeded and culminated in a spectacular seven-hour arrest operation in a building located in Saint-Denis, on the outskirts of Paris, during which thousands of gunshots were fired.

Jimenez said he was drawn to the project after reading Demangel’s meticulously researched script whose focus is on these heroic cops and their “tentacular” investigation.

“‘November’ isn’t a film about the attacks or the victims, it’s about these SDAT agents who worked around the clock for five days to catch terrorists on the run in the city and deployed extraordinary resources to achieve it,” said Jimenez, who was choreographing car chase scenes with small car toys on his office’s floors when we met. The movie will be ambitious in terms of scope, scale and pace with more than 200 sequences and scenes in Greece, Morocco and Belgium where police operations took place.

“I don’t want to spoil anything, but the film will show some crazy things that happened during the course of this five-day investigation — it was full of twists and turns, and definitely remains the most memorable investigation led by the SDAT to this day,” said Jimenez.

Rather than work with non-professionals as it is often the case when French directors aim at tackling true stories in a realistic manner, Jimenez surrounded himself with France’s top talent, from seasoned actors like Dujardin to up-and-comers like Khoudri or Outalbali. “I love actors and I do think great actors can convey anything and play anyone, and it’s rewarding to work with a wonderful cast on a movie that’s about an important topic, based on a recent chapter of French history with a rock-solid script that was thoroughly documented, said Jimenez, who added that he collaborated with Demangel on the script.

Since making his feature debut “The Connection,” a 1970’s set crime thriller based on the real story of the murder of French police magistrate Pierre Michel (played by Dujardin), Jimenez directed “HHhH,” a drama about the assassination of the high-ranking Nazi official Reinhard Heydrich during WWII with Pike, Jason Clarke and and Jack O’Connell. He last directed “Bac Nord,” a thriller following a police brigade in a crime-ridden neighborhood of Marseille. The movie was acquired by Netflix for global rights outside of France. After “November,” Jimenez will be directing the recently-announced futuristic thriller “Mind Fall” with Oscar winner Graham Moore scripting.