Producer Alain Goldman has reteamed with Gaumont for his latest production, La Rafle (The Roundup). The $29.5m (€20m) film, directed by Roselyne Bosch, is what Goldman calls “the French Schindler’s List.”
Based on the true story of the roundup of the Jews in Paris in July, 1942, the film is told from the point of view of Joseph Weismann who was a ten-year-old boy at the time.
Starring Jean Reno, Melanie Laurent, Gad Emaleh, Sylvie Testud and newcomer Raphaelle Agogue, who Goldman calls a revelation, the film is currently being edited and will be released by Gaumont in France on March 10. Goldman’s company Legende, Gaumont, and German co-producer EOS Entertainment are backing the film along with participation from Canal Plus, France 3 and TF1. Gaumont is handling international sales and will screen 10 minutes of the film here at AFM on Wednesday.
Goldman told ScreenDaily that the filmmakers spent two years with Weismann who lost his entire family during La Rafle but who managed to escape himself. On July 16, 1942, during the German Occupation of France - and with the help of complicit French police forces - nearly 13,000 Jews, a third of whom were children, were arrested. Many of them were sent to the Velodrome D’Hiver in Paris’ 15th arrondissement where they were held before being separated and sent to camps in France and eventually to extermination camps such as Auschwitz. Weismann was sent to the Beaune La Rolande camp in the Loiret region and, as the film shows, escaped after his parents had been marched off.
Goldman said the film is not so much about “the past, but about the future…it asks very modern questions that will touch all countries, particularly in the west, and make them think about issues like immigration and the notion of ‘what is a man?’”
This type of film is indeed a rarity for France, a country that is notoriously, as Goldman says, “horrified by the idea of looking at itself.” But, Goldman contends, “What was interesting wasn’t to do a film that says, ‘look what the French did to the Jews,’ it’s more about what human beings can do to other human beings. La Rafle was an attack on children which by definition is an attack on innocence.”
Goldman, whose La Vie En Rose had a bright international career, not to mention leading Marion Cotillard to a Best Actress Oscar, has high hopes for The Roundup’s chances to reach out to the world. “There is a false belief that French films don’t travel. It’s not because it’s in French that it doesn’t travel, it’s what it says. If it’s strong, it works in no matter what language. This film even more so because the situation is visual, you don’t even need to understand what is being said because the drama is so real.”