English-language thriller set on French Riviera in the 1950s due to shoot July 2015.
Brazilian director Karim Aïnouz’s upcoming thriller The Beauty of Sharks was one of the hot projects at the inaugural edition of the Paris Coproduction Village, which unfolded off the French capital’s Champs Elysees last week.
Two French buyers were rumoured to be circling the thriller about a group of US expatriate hustlers living on the French Riviera, who are trying to get a piece of an elderly socialite’s millions.
It is based on an original screenplay by UK writer Rob Green who recently worked on Billy O’Brien’s horror romance Scintilla.
The feature is produced by Filip Jan Rymsza of Royal Road Entertainment, which is based out of Los Angeles with satellite offices in New York and Luxembourg. Rymsza, who has a dual US and Polish nationality, also takes a co-writing credit.
“The plan is to raise finance both out of the US and Europe. We’ve had a lot of interest here… I’ve got back-to-back meetings for the two days,” said Rymzsa who was in attendance at the Paris Coproduction Village.
Rymzsa said the production was due to shoot in the second half of 2015 in studios in Luxembourg as well as on the French Riviera. Casting would be out of the UK and the US.
Aïnouz, who lives mainly in Berlin, was in competition at the Berlinale this year with Futuro Beach, about the relationship between a Brazilian life-guard and a German tourist he saves on Praia do Futuro beach in Fortaleza, Brazil.
The Beauty of Sharks was among 12 features presented at the inaugural edition of the Paris Coproduction Village (June 12-13).
The event, hosted by the Champs Elysees Film Festival, was born at the 11th hour out of the annual Paris Project co-production initiative which lost its Paris City Hall funding earlier this year.
It is run by the same team which runs the Les Arcs Coproduction Village in the French Alps in December, comprising CEO Pierre Emmanuel Fleurantin, head of industry Vanja Kaludjercic, general manager Guillaume Calop and consultant co-founder Jeremy Zelnik.
“This first edition was a logistical challenge given we only had a three and a half months to put it together but I think we can qualify it as a success,” said Kaludjercic. “More than 130 companies registered and 160 professionals attended. There were 560 one-to-one meetings over the two days.
“We had such high demand that it was difficult to accommodate everyone over two days – we hope to extend the meeting to three days next year. We had a lot of positive feedback showing Paris is a perfect setting for such an industry event.”
The main focus of the event is to connect international filmmakers with potential French sales agents and producers but alongside representatives of companies such as Bac Films, Other Angle, Les Films d’ici 2 a number of international companies also attended including the UK’s WestEnd Films, Bankside, The Match Factory and The Works.
Other projects drumming up particular interest included Italian director Andrea Segre’s 40%; Israeli filmmaker Asaf Saban’s The Delegation; and Romanian director Catalin Mitulescu’s Heidi.
Further buzzed about titles included In The Middle of the Road, from Germany-based US director Damian John Harper; Philippine filmmaker Brillante Mendoza’s The Embroiderer; Thai director Pen-ek Ratanaruang’s Samui Song; and Swedish-South African filmmaker Pia Marais’ White Knuckles.
Ratanaruang and his producer Raymond Phatanavirangoon, who operate under the Bluering Company Limited banner, were not only looking for producers and distributors. Ratanaruang upcoming crime drama Samui Song revolving around a Thai soap opera actress requires a European actor to play her wealthy expat husband who becomes embroiled in a religious cult.
“We’re looking for someone who looks out of place in Thailand. That slightly rotund type of expat man who gets pink in the sun and doesn’t really fit in,” said Ratanaruang. “We’ve been picking people’s brains during the meetings for ideas.”
The film, budgeted at €675,000 ($915,000), is due to shoot in Thailand in December.
“We’re ready to shoot whether or not we find partners here but it’s been useful to come here and pitch the project to gauge the level of interest and whether it’s working or not,” said Phatanavirangoon.
Yoav Roeh and Aurit Zamir of Tel Aviv-based Gum Films have already signed up German Roh Films and Polish Opus Films for The Delegation, about a bunch of Israeli high-school students on a compulsory trip to the concentration camp memorials of Europe, but would like to pact with a French partner too.
Previous Gum Films productions include Eytan Fox’s Cupcakes and Hagai Levi’s The Cursed, which is in post-production.
“These trips and how Israel should keep the memory of the Holocaust alive is a source of much debate in Israel,” explained Zamir. “These kids go off at time when they are forming their identity, working out who they are… and at the same time are essentially a bunch of kids who want to have fun on a school trip. The director Asaf Saban draws on his own experiences on such a trip.”
The Coproduction Village marked a first foray into the international co-production scene for Italian director Andrea Segre and his Padua-based producer Francesco Bonsembiante of Jolefilm. Segre’s previous films Shun Li and the Poet and First Snowfall were both financed out of Italy.
His upcoming work, 40%, revolves around a European taskforce of special police officers sent to Libya to stop migrants before they get to the Mediterranean Sea.
The screenplay is based on in-depth interviews by Segre with real-life Italian police officers doing this work. “I originally wanted to make a documentary but none of these people would agree to appear on camera so a drama makes more sense,” said Segre. The film revolves around an officer who cannot turn a blind eye to the plight of a young Somali woman.
“We’ve never reached out to international producers for Andrea’s previous films but the subject-matter and story seemed appropriate for a co-production,” commented producer Bonsembiante.
The six feature films currently being developed through Cannes’ residential Cinefondation programme were also presented at the village including Serbian Katarina Stankovic’s Against the Day and Icelandic Gudmundar Arnar Gudundsson’s Hearstone.