French high-end TV production outfit Le Sabre is preparing four English-language film projects, including Cheri, to star Jessica Lange, and a $16m ice age epic The Mammoth Hunters. The company is part of the Expand group, which has just been taken over by StudioCanal (see Screendaily, June 18).

Lange herself initiated Cheri, based on French writer Colette's classic story of the love affair between a 40-year-old woman and an 18-year-old boy. The project is currently in development at LA-based Overseas/First Look.

Le Sabre has also just boarded Mammoth Hunters, currently in development at UK-based TR Pictures (TRP) the production company created in May 2001 by former Clt Ufa International executive Heinz Thym and US writer-director Stewart Raffill.

The company is currently shooting Paradise Found, a France/Australia/UK/Germany co-production, backed by StudioCanal in France, Australian Film Finance Corporation, Germany's Apollomedia and Grosvenor Park Productions in the UK. StudioCanal is handling worldwide sales on the title.

The $7m title, directed by Australian film-maker Mario Andreacchio from a script by John Goldsmith, is based on the life of French painter Emile Gauguin. Kiefer Sutherland plays Gauguin, who left behind his golden life as a star trader on the French stock exchange for the life of a struggling painter in 19th century Tahiti. Nastassja Kinski co-stars.

Le Sabre's slate of projects also includes another Australian picture, Zirafa, which is based on the true story of the arrival in 19th century France of a giraffe, a gift from the Sultan of Egypt to the French King Charles X. Zirafa is to be directed by Andreacchio, who initiated the project and who will also be co-producing.