Oscar-winning producer and activist Marion Cotillard is joining forces with filmmaker Cyril Dion and producer Magali Payen to launch Newtopia, a production company that aims at delivering movies, series and shorts with socially relevant themes.
The Paris-based company’s first slate of ambitious projects include Dion’s geopolitical thriller “Le Grand vertige,” and “Francoise,” a prestige English-language mini-series about the flamboyant life of Françoise d’Eaubonne, a leading feminist writer and activist who created the concept of ecofeminism. The banner’s roster also includes “Le géant Bakelite,” an underwater ecological short film by Julie Gautier.
The company’s key executives are Payen, a well-connected social activist and former executive at Studiocanal, and Adrien Mazeau, who previously worked at Nord-Ouest, Studiocanal and Canal Plus.
The founders and editorial board of the company includes Camille Trumer, producer at La Company de la Seine who previously worked at Cinéart, Studiocanal France and Paramount Pictures France; Ombline le Lasseur and Vincent Ricordeau, founders and CEO of KissKissBankBank & Co; the Bright Bright Bright, a production company founded by Thomas Bénet, Patrick Fournier and Dion.
KissKissBankBank, a large crowdfunding platform in France, is also one of the strategic partners along with Payen’s powerful advocacy banner Imagine 2050. KissKissBankBank will build active communities to support the content produced by Newtopia from the development stage through the delivery.
Dion has directed some of the most impactful documentaries promoting climate and social change, such as “Tomorrow” and “Animal,” which world premiered at Cannes in the Cinema for the Climate sidebar and was produced by Payen. He’s making his feature with “Le Grand vertige,” an adaptation of Pierre Ducrozet’s novel, which is penned by Ducrozet and Natalie Carter (“Love Crime”).
Exploring a father and daughter relationship and two clashing visions of activism, the movie follows a man who is “put in charge of a massive project to stop climate change, and is ready to gamble everything including his own daughter.” Dion said the film will “look at the choices we have to make and the way our personal journey is intertwined with history.”
“Francoise,’ meanwhile, is a biopic mini-series turning the spotlight on the crucial role that Françoise d’Eaubonne played the 1970’s through her political engagement. Payen said Françoise d’Eaubonne had been a role model for her as she pioneered what is known today as ecofeminism.
Dion and Payen first met in 2018 at the march for the climate in Paris, and said they share the same belief that TV and movies industry should inspire people to live in a better world, rather than show them how bad it could be through dystopian content. It made sense for them to team up with Cotillard, who’s been an activist for decades and recently executive produced “Bigger Than Us” which world premiered at Cannes last year in Cinema for the Climate section.
“We need other stories which deal with new ways to move, to live, to interact with animals, trees and oceans,” said the pair. “Stories which tell us how we can get out of this mess. Other stories which imagine how we could live tomorrow, refusing both dystopian apocalypses and ultra-technological fantasies clichés.”
Citing “Arrival,” “My Neighbor Totoro,” “Captain Fantastic” and “Avatar,” Dion and Payen said they wanted to deliver “ambitious fictions, series and films to captivate a large audience on all screens and media.”
They said the idea wasn’t to make “preachy” content but rather tell “universal stories nurtured by the core issues of tomorrow: environmentalism, social justice, gender equality, solidarity, a new awareness of the living world.”