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Nicolas Roeg developing First World War romance At Sunset

Montreal-based Amérique Films producing Western Front feature centered on a young British sniper.

British director Nicolas Roeg is developing a First World War romance revolving around an affair between a young, British Army sniper and a wealthy, French landowner behind enemy lines.

The project - originally called The Sniper but recently re-titled At Sunset - reunites the film-maker with British writer Dan Weldon and Canadian producer Martin Paul-Hus of Montreal-based Amérique Films.

The pair collaborated with Roeg on 2007 supernatural tale Puffball, for which Weldon adapted his mother Fay Weldon’s novel of the same title.

Producer Paul-Hus told Screen: “It’s the tale of a torrid affair between a woman in her late 40s, early 50s and a young lad from Yorkshire. She is a wealthy landowner, he is a former labourer on a big estate… the madness of the First World War brings them together.

“The script, written by Dan, is completed but we’re starting upside-down: we want to cast the female lead first and then we’ll tap into our network in Germany, France and Benelux for co-producing partners.”

Paul-Hus has his sights set on one of France’s top female actresses for the lead role.

It will be the first film in six years for the 84-year-old director of WalkaboutDon’t Look Now and The Man Who Fell to Earth, who told The Guardian newspaper in an interview in 2011 that he still had three or four films left in him.

French-Canadian Paul-Hus, who specialises in international co-financing using the backing of the Quebecois SODEC and CanadianTelefilm funds as well as Canada’s generous film tax incentives, has a raft of co-productions due out this year.

They include German director Wiebke von Carolsfeld’s Stay about a pregnant woman who returns to Canada from Ireland after her partner says he does not want children. The picture, starring Aidan Quinn and Taylor Schilling, is a co-production with Dublin-based Samson Films.

“We’ve yet to set a sales agent yet but the hope is that we will premiere the film at Toronto,” said Paul-Hus.

Other future releases include Tony Pemberton’s Buddha’s Little Finger, an adaptation of Russian novelist Victor Pelevin’s novel set at the time of the 1991 coup against Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev.

It stars British actor Toby Kebbell as a young gangster who loses his memory during a KGB interrogation and believes he is a revolutionary poet during Russia’s 1919 civil war. 

It is a co-production with German Rohfilm and Cine Plus with the support of theMitteldeutsche Medienförderung (MDM), Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg (MBB), Quebec’s cultural fund SODEC, Telefilm Canada and the Canadian Media Development Programme.

Upcoming French-language pictures include French director Christophe Cousin’s Deux temps, trois mouvements, about a Parisian teenager getting to grips with life in Quebec after his mother decides to move there following the death of his father.

Amérique Films also has a minority stake in Philippe Kotlarski and Anna Weil’s Friends from France about two French youngsters who travel to Leningrad in 1982 to give support to a group of Jewish dissidents – or refuseniks.

The picture is lead produced by Paris-based Les Films du Poisson (producers of Oscar-nominated documentary The Gatekeepers), Berlin-based Vandertastic and St Petersburg-based Rock Films. Pyramide International is handling sales. Set for a June release in France, the picture could be a potential candidate for a Croisette premiere. 

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