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Cannes: Directors To Watch

Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi
The only female helmer in Competition in Cannes graduates to the big show as a director for the first time this year with A Castle In Italy. Italian-born Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi has appeared many times across the festival’s official selections as an actress and in 2007 was in Un Certain Regard for directing Actrices for which she won a special jury prize. The sister of France’s former First Lady Carla Bruni is a star at home who hails from a well-to-do family, but knows how to poke fun at herself. Despite her heritage, “she makes movies that are tongue in cheek and has a Woody Allen-esque tone to what she does” says an exec involved in Italy. And that makes her “very likeable.” She’s had roles in Hollywood movies including Ridley Scott’s A Good Year and jury president Steven Spielberg’s Munich and has worked with director (and co-competitor) François Ozon in 5X2 and Time To Leave. Her directing breakout in France was 2003′s It’s Easier For A Camel. A Castle In Italy, in which she also acts, is about a family forced to sell their Italian home and is said to be partly auto-biographical.

Guillaume Canet
Blood Ties helmer Guillaume Canet has been referred to as the “Ben Affleck of France.” He is a huge star at home who made his name as an actor before moving into directing with his first well-received feature, 2002’s Mon Idole. He followed that with Tell No One, a critical and box office success in France and abroad. Canet won the best director César for the suspense picture. His ensemble pic Little White Lies in 2010 was also a hit. After Tell No One, he was offered a lot of scripts out of Hollywood, for both small and studio films, he tells me. But, he says, “I didn’t feel at all like I wanted to go on an adventure with a big studio where I couldn’t control the situation. I thought I should do a smaller film that would really be mine.” Blood Ties, his first English-language film which is in official selection here in Cannes, is just that. Canet starred in the original French version, Les Liens Du Sang, and turned back to it thinking it would be “very interesting” to do a picture based in 1970s New York. Canet enlisted the help of James Gray (whose The Immigrant, also here in Cannes, stars Canet’s wife Marion Cotillard) and the two hammered out a take, producer Alain Attal tells me. The movie about two brothers, one a cop and one an ex-con, stars Clive Owen, Billy Crudup, Lili Taylor, Zoe Saldana, Mila Kunis, James Caan, Noah Emmerich, Cotillard and her Rust And Bone co-star Matthias Schoenaerts. Attal says Canet is the kind of director that likes to talk to his actors and take a lot of time with them. Canet says he only wanted actors who were truly committed. But he has increasingly made the choice not to appear in his own films. “When I do a film I like to be concentrated on directing,” he says, “but it will probably happen” that he’ll act again in one of his own. Doing another movie in English is not out of the question. “If the material lends itself, why not?”.

James Franco
James Franco, actor, producer, director, conceptual artist, et al, is making a leap with his As I Lay Dying in official selection at Cannes. The movie, based on the classic William Faulkner novel which was a book recommended by his dad many years ago, is running in the Un Certain Regard section. Franco says, “One of the nice things about being accepted to Cannes is I’ve noticed people really considering me as a director now.” His last helming effort, Interior. Leather. Bar. ran in Sundance, but he says that was a “different kind of project” that was made “strictly for artistic reasons. It was an interesting film but we didn’t feel any pressure to tell a conventional narrative.” That’s not the kind of movie that As I Lay Dying is, he says, even though it’s a “very daring kind of project to take on.” The intention was to gear this one to a theatrical release. And he says that going forward as a director he will be “exploring new things but will be making them in a way that they will be able to live in commercial theaters.” He recently signed on to The Garden Of Last Days, an adaptation of the bestselling book by House Of Sand And Fog author Andre Dubus III. Franco says, “It was brought to me as a director, and that was new.” He also recently directed the upcoming Bukowski and Child Of God. As for acting, Franco says he still enjoys it, in part because it allows him to work with the “best directors” and the collaboration is a learning experience. He says that a discussion with his Spring Breakers director Harmony Korine sums up his goal: “Be sure to have one area that’s purely yours. That’s the area you’re doing projects you believe in. And find a way to do them; those are your movies.” He admits, however, to being as excited as a little kid to have his first film in Cannes. “There are so many dreams I’ve had coming true at once.” Read More »

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‘It Happened In Saint Tropez’, Canet’s ‘Jappeloup’ Among Col-Coa Fest Highlights

By | Wednesday March 27, 2013 @ 4:54am PDT

The Franco-American Cultural Fund has unveiled the roster for the 17th City of Lights, City of Angels film fest that runs April 15-22 in LA. The French film showcase is presented by the Franco-American Cultural Fund, a partnership of the DGA, WGAW, MPAA and France’s SACEM. Danièle Thompson’s comedy It Happened In Saint Tropez will open the festival. Co-written by Thompson and her son and frequent collaborator, Christopher Thompson, the film stars Kad Merad and Monica Bellucci. The two closing night films are being kept under wraps until April 15. Among other highlights are Pathé’s box office hit Jappeloup, a biopic of showjumper Pierre Durand, written by and starring Guillaume Canet; Tribeca selection Cycling With Moliere, starring Lambert Wilson and Fabrice Luchini; Stéphane Brizé’s A Few Hours Of Spring; The Weinstein Co.‘s Mad Men-era Populaire and Philippe Godeau’s 11.6 starring The Intouchables‘ François Cluzet. Among the new additions to the program this year are Focus on a Producer (Anne-Dominique Toussaint and Les Films des Tournelles); the Col-Coa Coming Soon Award which offers a promotional radio campaign to a film with a U.S. distributor; the World Cinema Produced By France series and a series entitled French NeWave 2.0. The films announced today join previously announced vintage titles. Tickets are available online at and onsite at the DGA. Click over for the full list of titles: Read More »

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OOO-LA-LA: Why French Directors Are Suddenly So Hot In Hollywood

The current wave of French directors making Hollywood films seems to have taken Jean-Luc Godard’s advice (“All you need for a movie is a gun and a girl”), amped it up with a healthy dash of special effects or 3D and taken it to the bank.

Louis Leterrier, director of The Incredible Hulk and Clash of the Titans, will in January be making Summit’s movie about magicians who rob banks during performances Now You See Me, with Star Trek writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci producing. Fred Cavayé, director of the original French version of the Russell Crowe-thriller The Next Three Days, is in talks with studios to remake his latest, Point Blank.

“I grew up watching American movies, so my lexicon is American directors like Steven Spielberg and George Lucas,” Leterrier said. “These movies seeped into my artistic DNA. At the same time, because Paris is the capital of world cinema, I was also watching French films, German cinema or kung fu movies from Hong Kong. What makes me and other French directors different from Americans is that we were feeding ourselves from other cultures.”

The communication revolution and modern travel realities are making it easier for French helmers to cross over to Hollywood. Today an agent in Beverly Hills can watch something online and make contact pretty within hours. “There’s a fluid traffic in information,” says Ron Halpern, executive vice-president of international production at Studio Canal. “The world has gotten smaller. The speed of communication means that foreign directors are on people’s radars much quicker. And when a studio is looking for something fresh and interesting, a foreign eye can often bring something.” Read More »

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Ben Affleck To Turn French-Flavored Harlan Coben Novel ‘Tell No One’ Into Feature

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Harlan Coben, one of the biggest-selling mystery writers in America, is finally in line to have one of his books made into a major Hollywood film. And all he had to do was make a detour through France.

Warner Bros and Universal Pictures have optioned rights to Coben’s thriller Tell No One. Ben Affleck is attached to direct, and the script will be written by Chris Terrio. Terrio scripted Argo, the film Affleck is preparing to direct next for Warner Bros. Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall will be the producers. The studios will co-develop the picture, with Warner Bros releasing domestically and Universal Pictures International launching it overseas. The deal involves Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp, and that’s where the French connection comes in. The new project is basically a remake of the French film adaptation of Coben’s book, which was directed by Guillaume Canet.

Coben originally set up his book at Sony Pictures in 2002. The studio hired Star Trek scribes Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, no less. Coben has a page-turning writing style, but his mysteries aren’t seamless screen transitions. It never quite came together and Sony let it go. Canet then got involved, figured out how to make the premise work, set it up at EuropaCorp and turned it into French film. The plot involves a pediatrician who is out one night frolicking by a lake with his wife when she suddenly vanishes and he is severely beaten when he tries to find her. When she turns up murdered, he is prime suspect. That’s until she’s declared a victim of a caught serial killer. Years later, bodies turn up in the same spot and the nightmare is repeated, the pediatrician again under suspicion. Right around that time, he’s given evidence that his wife wasn’t dead at all. Canet managed to make all of that work, anchored by the fact the protagonist never got over the death of his wife. Sarah Schechter and Greg Silverman are running the project for Warner Bros, and Adam Yoelin is steering it for Kennedy/Marshall. Read More »

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Hot Trailer: ‘Last Night’

By | Monday March 28, 2011 @ 7:21am PDT
Mike Fleming

There’s a new trailer for Last Night, the Massy Tadjedin-directed relationship drama about what happens when a married couple is separated, and tempted by others. The film stars Keira Knightley, Sam Worthington, Eva Mendes and Guillaume Canet. Last Night made its debut at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival.

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