Abel Ferrara and screenwriter Chris Zois’ Welcome To New York, inspired by the 2011 sex scandal surrounding former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, had its world premiere here in Cannes tonight. Once thought to be a candidate for an Official Selection berth, it instead unspooled in an unofficial capacity inside a tent erected at Nikki Beach (see NSFW trailer below). Stars Gérard Depardieu and Jacqueline Bisset were on hand for a post-screening press conference about the film that has made headlines ever since it was first floated as a project — and more so now due to an unconventional release plan. Depardieu plays Mr Devereaux, a man who handles billions of dollars a day, controls the economic fate of nations, and dreamed of saving the world but cannot save himself. Bisset plays his wife, Simone. The characters are inspired by Strauss-Kahn and Anne Sinclair. The former was famously alleged in May 2011 to have sexually assaulted a New York hotel employee, but charges were ultimately dropped. Sinclair is a French journalist and heiress from whom the former IMF chief is now divorced.
Although the film comes with a disclaimer at the beginning, there are clear parallels between Devereaux and Strauss-Kahn. Asked if they were concerned about lawsuits, Vincent Maraval, co-founder of production, finance and sales company Wild Bunch, said the movie was made under American law and had been well vetted by attorneys. But, he tossed out, if anyone wants to “make us publicity, they are welcome”. The movie begins with some pretty debauched sex scenes that show Devereaux partying with a coterie of men and women in a hotel suite — they are not for the faint of heart. Depardieu called the subject matter reminiscent of Shakespearian tragedy. He said he was shocked when he saw the film because some of the sex was very violent, but he tried not to pin the characters to “right or wrong.” Devereaux’s character “knows he is sick. … I didn’t want to ask too many questions.” Ferrara also said he was “not making a judgment” with the film. When he showed it to Bernardo Bertolucci recently, the veteran Italian helmer remarked it reminded him of a Warhol film. “It is what it is,” Ferrara said. For those who might consider some of the footage borderline porn, Depardieu cautioned to laughter: “It’s not porno at all. To be porno, you have to see the big dick.” Spoiler alert: There is a scene in which Depardieu’s private parts are exposed, but it’s during a strip search inside a stark prison, so not exactly sexy. Read More »
France’s Éclair Group Raises $16.6M Digital Switch, Development Here’s some good news for France’s troubled postproduction sector. The Éclair Group has raised €12.4M ($16.6M) to complete its digital transition and speed up development across all of its businesses. The recapitalization was financed by the company’s current management, France’s Fonds de Consolidation et Développement des Entreprises, and by Tarak Ben Ammar’s Quinta Communications. (Ben Ammar had acquired 43% of Éclair back in 2007 and was keen to merge it with his LTC Laboratories but was blocked by the competition authority at the time.) Éclair will also use the funds to strengthen its restoration business and to equip French cinemas in partnership with Deluxe and HP.
OWN Programming Heading Down Under OWN and Discovery Networks International are planning a weekly block of OWN programming for Discovery Home & Health in Australia. Starting August 4, Aussie viewers will have access to shows that include Oprah’s Next Chapter, Super Soul Sunday, America With Lisa Ling and The Oprah Winfrey Show: Behind The Scenes. The Australia bow will follow the recent UK launch of OWN programming on TLC.Read More »
Iran Dismisses ‘Argo’ As “Anti-Iran”, Pro-CIA Iran’s culture minister blasted Argo, a day after it won the Best Picture Oscar, calling it anti-Iranian and weak artistically. Iran’s state TV also called the movie “an advertisement for the CIA.” “This anti-Iran film lacks any artistic aspects and it is a very weak film from an artistic perspective and we don’t expect anything else from the enemy,” Culture and Islamic Guidance Minister Mohammad Hosseini said, according to the semi-official Mehr news agency and reported by Reuters. Mehr called the Oscar “politically motivated” because first lady Michelle Obama joined Jack Nicholson via video link from Washington to help present the best picture award. Argo has not screened in any Iranian theaters but the movie has been widely available on bootleg DVDs in the black market in Tehran. The Iran hostage drama also won best film editing and best adapted screenplay.Read More »
Gérard Depardieu Embraces Russia Citizenship Offer
Actor Gérard Depardieu has hailed Russia’s decision to grant him citizenship following a tax spat with the government of his native France. In an open letter broadcast on Russian TV Depardieu said, “I filed a passport application and I am pleased that it was accepted. I love your country, Russia — its people, its history, its writers. I love your culture, your intelligence.” The actor said he had spoken to French President Francois Hollande and told him Russia was “a great democracy, and not a country where the prime minister calls one of its citizens shabby” — referring to how French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault described Depardieu’s decision to leave the country. Depardieu’s tax feud began last year after Hollande moved to raise taxes to 75% for those earning more than €1M ($1.6M). The actor accused the new socialist government of punishing “success, creation and talent” and announced in early December he would move to Belgium. Wonder how he feels about Wild Bunch film sales exec Vincent Maraval’s remarks accusing French actors of abusing the nation’s generous film subsidy system and getting “rich from public funds”.
Larrikin Entertainment Boards Australian Thriller ‘The Reckoning’
Greg Coote’s LA-based Larrikin Entertainment has boarded its first Australian film, The Reckoning. Callan McAuliffe, who plays the young Jay Gatsby in Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby, is set to star. Writer-director John V. Soto’s thriller focuses on a detective racing to find two teenage runaways who have video of a murderer. Filmscope Entertainment’s Deidre Kitcher tells Deadline pre-production will start in Perth in February, and with the rest of the cast to be announced later this month. Lightning Entertainment has worldwide sales rights excluding Australia. Coote and Larrikin partner David Calvert-Jones and exec Robert Lundberg will serve as exec producers. Kitcher raised funds from Screen West, private investors, the 40% producer offset and Lightning. Soto’s most recent pic Needle was released in the U.S. by Lionsgate. – Don Groves Read More »
Last month, shortly after Gérard Depardieu publicly declared that he was giving up his French papers, the actor said that Russian president Vladimir Putin had already sent him a passport. Although Depardieu’s comments were taken as a joke at the time, Putin weighed in before the holidays, saying, “If Gérard wants a visa or a Russian passport, it’s settled.” Today, the Kremlin announced that a decree has been signed granting Russian citizenship to Depardieu. Whether the Oscar-nominated actor will accept the new status remains to be seen. He is not, however, expected to change his mind about remaining in France where he has been at the center of a media and political maelstrom ever since deciding to move to neighboring Néchin, Belgium in the face of expected tax increases. The new French government’s plan to impose a 75% tax on people earning more than 1M euros a year ($1.3M) was kiboshed by the Constitutional Council last weekend, but Depardieu said on Sunday that it “changed nothing” for him. Earlier in December, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault called Depardieu’s proposed fiscal exile “pathetic” and the actor shot back in an open letter that he was turning in his French passport. Read More »
Gérard Depardieu has made headlines for things other than his acting before, but his decision to move to Belgium has taken the media – and French political circles – by storm. Although it is unlikely to affect his career, the Oscar nominee, in a letter published in today’s Journal Du Dimanche, says he is returning his French passport after being called “pathetic” by French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault. The new French government has imposed a controversial 75% income tax on individuals earning more than 1M euros and Depardieu recently purchased a property across the French border in Néchin, Belgium where taxes are lower. This prompted Ayrault to tell France 2 television last week, “I find it quite pathetic to go just over the border. All this in order to not pay taxes.” Depardieu has inqured about obtaining a Belgian passport, the mayor of Néchin said Sunday, which would normally allow him to continue working in France under European Union rules. The actor is France’s best paid and perhaps most prolific. For 2012 and 2013, there are at least 10 films on his dance card and he may play a French politician embroiled in a sex scandal for Abel Ferrara later this year. Depardieu’s colorful reponse to Ayrault is excerpted below: Read More »
American director Abel Ferrara told France’s Le Monde newspaper that he will make a film about disgraced French politician and former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Gérard Depardieu will play the principal role in the film that will revolve around Strauss-Kahn, who resigned after he was accused of sexually assaulting a hotel maid in New York. Isabelle Adjani will play his wife Anne Sinclair. Prior to Strauss-Kahn’s resignation, he had been a frontrunner in France’s Socialist Party to challenge incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy for the presidency. Wild Bunch’s Vincent Maraval told Le Monde: “It’s true that we’d like Abel to shoot in June, but he has 4 projects in mind and we haven’t yet made our decision.” Ferrara added, “Vincent doesn’t want to talk about this project, that’s normal, he’s the producer. But I’m the director! No one is going to stop me talking about my film.” The charges against Strauss-Kahn were eventually dropped, but the aftermath brought out other accusations of harassment in France and has likely fatally wounded any ambitions for national office.
EXCLUSIVE: Abel Ferrara and screenwriter Christ Zois are indeed working on a feature script partly inspired by this summer’s sex scandal surrounding former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Wild Bunch’s Vincent Maraval has confirmed it. Gérard Depardieu and Isabelle Adjani are circling characters based on the scandal-plagued former IMF chief and his wife Anne Sinclair. They’ve met with the director. But Maraval says the project is still a long way from active development.
The idea for a film came about on a lark when Ferrara was making 4:44 Last Day On Earth with Wild Bunch earlier this year. Per Maraval, it was suggested that the DSK sex scandal would be a good fit for Ferrara given the filmmaker’s penchant for themes of addiction. Maraval says Ferrara and sometime collaborator Zois are now writing a script which could include elements inspired by the lives of other politicians like Bill Clinton and Silvio Berlusconi along with Strauss-Kahn. But, despite earlier reports in the French press, he stresses it’s too early to say anything definitively. “One thing we do know is that there’s a real common desire amongst Depardieu, Adjani and Ferrara to work together. But like every day in this business, we have to see if there’s a film there. Today, the only reality is that they are writing something inspired by Strauss-Kahn that will focus on addiction and politicians. It’s more … Read More »
It has been a wild night at CNN. First, Christine O’Donnell walked out on Piers Morgan in the middle of an interview. Then fellow anchor Anderson Cooper channeled his inner toddler when he giggled for about a minute over a poo-poo joke. The instigator was a RidicuList item about French actor Gerard Depardieu’s alleged public urination on the floor of a plane as it was getting ready for takeoff. Cooper cracked up several times while reading the commentary, oversaturated with pee-related puns, until he lost it after the line that the the airline cleaning crew “should thank their lucky stars this wasn’t DeparTwo.” (For the uninitiated, the last part of Depardieu’s name sounds like the French word “deux”, or No. 2, as in pooping.) Struggling to regain composure after the juvenile and silly joke, Cooper said, “Sorry, this has actually never happened to me. You always see this sort of thing on YouTube, and you never think it could happen to you.”
Toronto has just gotten underway, but the deals are falling from the sky already. I’m hearing that Wild Bunch is close to making a deal for Music Box to distribute Potiche in the U.S. The Francois Ozon-directed French farce stars Catherine Deneuve and Gerard Depardieu in what’s been described by critics as a screwball comedy that’s still “arch, knowing, and self-aware”. The film has privately screened for buyers since around the time of the Cannes Film Festival, and it made its fest premiere in Venice. Music Box is starting to make waves, especially after it made a deal for all three Swedish-made films from the Stieg Larsson book trilogy.