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Wild Bunch readies busy Rendez-vous slate, including new Donzelli film

Wild Bunch to launch new films from Valerie Donzelli [pictured], Gilles Bourdos and Xavier Giannoli as well as debut pictures, Regis Roinsard’s Romain Duris-starring Populaire and Helene Fillières’ Tied.

Paris-based sales powerhouse Wild Bunch is set to unveil more than a dozen upcoming French productions and completed pictures at this year’s Rendez-vous for French Cinema in Paris, running January 11-16.

“We use the Rendez-vous to launch all our French films for the year,” Wild Bunch sales head Vincent Maraval tells Screen. “There are always a few exceptions but 80 percent of our French titles will be unveiled at the Rendez-vous. Last year, for example, we launched Declaration of War and Poliss at the meeting.”

This year’s packed slate will include the latest film from Declaration of War director Valérie Donzelli, Hand in Hand (Main dans le main). Wild Bunch will show first footage from the dance-themed picture, co-starring Jérémie Elkaim and Valérie Lemercier as a no-hoper and a high-powered dance teacher at the Paris Opera who are inexplicably attracted to one another.

“We’ll show one or two scenes in which the actors mimic one another to show how the film works,” says Maraval.

The film, a co-production between Edouard Weil’s Rectangle Productions and Wild Bunch, is due to finish shooting at the end of February. It is slated for a Christmas 2012 release in France by Wild Bunch Distribution (WBD).

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Wild Bunch is also representing a second Rectangle picture in the shape of Xavier Giannoli’s Superstar, an exploration of the celebrity culture starring Kad Merad as man who wakes up one morning to find he is inexplicably a household name.

“It’s a very political film which is sure to provoke a lot of debate on its release,” says Maraval. “We’re still figuring out the best time to release it… it’s likely to be some time in the summer.”

Wild Bunch will also start sales on Denis Podayldes’ latest comedy Granny’s Funeral, in which he stars as man whose mid-life crisis comes to a head after he is asked to arrange the funeral of his late grandmother.

The company will also show a promo for Christian Vincent’s Haute Cuisine, based on the endearing, true story of late President Francois Mitterand’s private cook.

“It follows her battles to find her place in the Elysée Palace alongside the official chef as well as the relationship she had with the president through food,” says Maraval. “It’s in the vein of Babette’s Feast.”

The production, which called on the advice of a host of culinary experts including of Ritz Hotel chef Guy Legay, stars Catherine Frot opposite Jean D’Ormesson and Hippolyte Girardot. WBD will release the picture in France in September.

Wild Bunch will also screen promos for another true story, Gilles Bourdos’ Renoir exploring the relationship between impressionist painter Auguste Renoir and his pioneering filmmaker son Jean Renoir, through their joint muse Andrée Heuschling.

“It’s a very sumptuous, very beautiful picture, revealing the complicated relationship between Auguste Renoir and his son Jean,” says Maraval of the €7-8 million production.

Wild Bunch will also unveil Regis Roinsard’s debut feature, the 1950s-set Populaire, about a young, provincial woman’s bid to become the world speed-typing champion at the behest of her competitive boss, who takes on the role of her trainer. 

The €14 million production put together by producer Alain Attal of Les Productions du Trésor, co-stars Heartbreaker lead Romain Duris opposite Deborah Francois with The Artist’s Bérénice Bejo in a supporting role.

“It’s Regis first feature after some very impressive shorts,” says Maraval. “He demonstrated a strong vision for the film, right from the script stage.”

The other directorial debut on the slate is actress-turned director Hélène Fillière’s erotic thriller Tied, inspired by the real-life tale of banker Edouard Stern, who was shot dead by his mistress during a sadomasochistic bondage session in 2005.

Produced by Belgian Samsa Films and Entre Chien et Loup, the film co-stars Benoit Poelvoorde and Laetitia Casta as a banker and his mistress, whose games “grow ever wilder, ever more dangerous”.

“The film isn’t trying to retell these events but rather is inspired by them… it’s essentially a love story,” says Maraval, adding that WBD will release the film in the second half of 2012.

On the documentary front, the company will also unveil respected filmmaker Pascal Plisson’s On the Way to School, capturing different schoolchildren from across the globe and the extraordinary efforts they make to get educated.

Aside from the new projects, Wild Bunch will also premiere the Jean Dujardin and Gille Lellouche spearheaded picture The Players, a star-studded comedy on male infidelity.

Co-directed by Dujardin, Lellouche, Michel Hazanavicius, Fred Cavaye, Alex Courtes, Emmaneulle Bercot and Eric Lartigau, the feature, to be distributed by The Weinstein Company in the United States, will be released in France by Mars Distribution at the end of February.

Other premieres include Baise-Moi director Virginie Despentes’ adaptation of her controversial novel Bye Bye Blondie, starring Emmanuelle Beart and Beatrice Dalle as two former teenage lovers who rediscover one another in their 40s, after their lives have gone in very different directions. Happiness Distribution is set to release the film in March.

Jacques Maillot’s gritty Blood from a Stone, starring Daniel Auteil as the indebted owner of an ailing shipyard, will also premiere at the Rendez-vous. 

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