Wild Bunch to unveil comedy-driven French 2013 slate at Paris Rendez-vous

EXCLUSIVE: Company will also launch sales on Claire Denis vendetta picture, Luc Jacquet’s immersive forest documentary and upcoming dramas from Abdellatif Kechiche and Bruno Dumont.

Wild Bunch to unveil comedy-driven French 2013 slate at Paris Rendez-vous

Wild Bunch will kick-off sales on a dozen new French titles at Unifrance’s Paris Rendez-vous in January, with its 2013 slate putting the accent on “comédie d’auteur”.

“As in previous years, we’ll launch most of our French films for the coming year during the Rendez-vous,” said sales chief Vincent Maraval. “The last three editions have proven particularly fruitful for us.”

Explaining that the 2012 French slate focused on subjects emblematic of France such as art in Renoir or fine food in Haute Cuisine, Maraval said Wild Bunch would explore the potential of comedy in 2013.

“We’ve shied away from comedies in the past in the belief that they don’t travel but we’ve come round to the fact that they do… there is strong demand from territories like Russia, Spain, Italy and Germany,” said Maraval.  “We will remain true to quality cinema and our love of auteur film.”

Films fitting the bill include Laurent Tuel’s Tour de Force about an amateur cyclist who captures the public’s imagination when he decides to tackle the Tour de France. Maraval describes it as a feel-good comedy in the vein of The Full Monty or Billy Elliot.

The picture, starring Clovis Cornillac and Bouli Lanners, was shot against the backdrop of the 2012 Tour de France this summer. Produced by Fidelité Films and Bago Films, it will be released in June 2013 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Tour.

Other comedies include Mohamed Hamidi’s Homeland (Né Quelque Part) about a French man of Algerian origins who visits his father’s home village where a wheeler dealer cousin, played by Jamel Debbouze, introduces him to the joys of Algeria but then steals his identity papers, forcing him to return to France as a clandestine immigrant. The picture is a joint production between Intouchables production house Quad and Debbouze’s Kissfilms.

Wild Bunch will also roll-put WTF (What The Fuck), a part fact, part fiction account of the unorthodox rise to fame of real-life Internet prankster and creator of the nimportequi website Rémi Gaillard, whose online videos have garnered some 1.4 billion views. Gaillard plays himself in the film which will feature several new gags. The picture will hit screens at the end of 2013.

Other comedies include Valerie Lemercier’s Accessory in which she also stars as a snobby fashion magazine editor who possesses everything a woman could desire apart from the ultimate accessory – a child. Her plan to remedy this by adopting seven-year-old Aleksei from Russia backfires when the boy is not as cute-looking as she had hoped. Maraval says the picture has Cannes potential.  

Sales will also commence on Kim Chapiron’s X-Trade about a group of business school students who use the market principals they have studied in the classroom to set-up a prostitute ring in the provincial town where their college is based. Pierre-Ange Le Pogam is producing. The tale is based on a similar, true story in France revolving around a drugs ring. “It’s very youthful, connected and hip in style,” comments Maraval.

Also on the slate is Belgian Sylvestre Sbille’s I’ll Bury You, revolving around a psychological standoff between a pushy estate agent and his elderly neighbour when he falls down her well after having tried to hound her out of their upscale neighbourhood because her property is an eyesore. Maraval describes the film as a dark Belgian comedy in the vein of Man Bites Dog.

COMPLETED PICTURES

Wild Bunch has also recently taken on sales on Jean-Marc Rudnicki’s Wrestling Queens (Les Reines du ring)[pictured], produced by Thomas Langmann’s La Petite Reine. The heart-warming tale revolves around an ex-con, supermarket cashier who forms a female wrestling team in a bid to get closer to her estranged son.

The company has also picked up Bruno Dumont’s Berlinale hopeful Camille Claudel, starring Juliette Binoche as the tragic female sculptress and Rodin lover after she is placed in a mental asylum in the South of France by her brother, the poet Paul Claudel.

Previously announced completed films on the Rendez-vous slate include Tied and 11.6.

DRAMA

Non-comedy fare includes Abdellatif Kechiche’s Blue, an adaptation of the award-winning graphic novel of the same name about a teenager who comes out as a lesbian starring Lea Seydoux and newcomer Adele Exarchopoulos.

“The film is very much in keeping with Kechiche’s previous work – it’s about adolescence and what it means to be different. We’ll show a few preliminary scenes but the film is still in post-production. Kechiche can take as long as a year to complete his films… he shoots a lot in a bid to get something really authentic,” said Maraval.

Wild Bunch will also unveil Claire Denis’ Bastards, drawing lose inspiration from Akira Kurosawa’s The Bad Sleep Well. Vincent Lindon stars as a ship’s captain who is drawn into a twisted vendetta by his sister against a businessman she believes to be responsible for husband’s suicide, becoming involved in with the businessman’s lover (Chiara Mastroianni) in the process.

The company will also launch Pierre Salvadori’s melancholic In The Courtyard, revolving around the unexpected friendship between a drifter and a recently retired woman. Catherine Deneuve and Gustave Kervern co-star.

DOCUMENTARIES

Wild Bunch will also reveal more details of Luc Jacquet’s latest documentary Once Upon A Forest. The immersive work charts the birth and growth of a forest over a 700-year period, making a powerful statement on the destruction of the world’s forests today. “We will be getting Luc Jacquet to Berlin to talk about it,” said Maraval.

Wild Bunch will also host a presentation of Pascal Plisson’s previously announced documentary On the Way to School, about children whose trip to school each day is a struggle, at which distributor Buena Vista France president Jean-François Camilleri will talk about the release strategy.

“We’d like to take either Once Upon a Forest or On the Way to School to Cannes out of competition and organise an event around the issues in the films,” said Maraval. “CAA in the States is currently looking for a big name actor to do the voiceover for On the Way to School and get behind the film.”

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