French filmmaker tells Liberation newspaper there are two versions of Grace of Monaco - “his and mine”.

French filmmaker Olivier Dahan has hit out at US distributor Harvey Weinstein over his decision to re-edit his cut of Grace of Monaco, starring Nicole Kidman as the tragic actress-turned-princess Grace Kelly, ahead of its US release next year.

“The film that I am in the process of finishing is complicated to finalise although actually for me it is finished,” Dahan said in an interview with French newspaper Liberation.

“What’s complicated at the moment is ensuring that you, the critics, can review my version of the film and not that of somebody else. It’s not over yet. I haven’t given up.”

The Weinstein Company announced in September that it was pushing back the US release of Grace of Monaco to spring 2014 from the previously expected Nov 2013, thus excluding the picture from this year’s Oscar race.

Weinstein told a masterclass at the Zurich Film Festival this month that the release had been postponed because the picture was not ready.

“The score wasn’t ready, a lot of things weren’t ready… Also we’ve played no festivals on that movie, so it’s hard to get into an Oscar race without at least some festival exposure,” Weinstein explained.

“The movie is going to be fantastic, and very glamorous. I think this could be bigger than My Week With Marilyn and in the same category of classy, intelligent filmmaking.”

Weinstein is unashamedly upfront about his habit of cutting his acquisitions to make them work for US audiences.

At a presentation of Wong Kar Wai’s The Grandmaster at the BFI London Film Festival last night (Oct 17), Weinstein talked animatedly about the new version of the picture re-edited in collaboration with Kar Wai, reducing the run-time to 108 minutes from 130 minutes for US audiences. 

Asked by Liberation how he felt about the delay in the film’s release, Dahan replied: “I don’t care. They can release it when they want. It’s right to struggle but when you confront an American distributor like Weinstein, without naming names, there is not much you can do.”

Dahan told the newspaper that he had not decided whether he would sign the re-edited cut yet: “I’m sort of obliged to… but I could go that far. There are two versions of the film for now, his and mine… it’s catastrophic.”

Asked about Weinstein’s comment in Zurich that the film was not ready, Dahan responded: “It’s got hardly anything to do with the film. It’s only about the money, the release strategy, millions of dollars and stuff like that.

“It’s got nothing to do with cinema. I mean of course it’s about cinema but the business side.  They want a commercial film smelling of daisies, taking out anything that exceeds that, which is too abrupt, everything that makes it cinematic and breathe with life. A lot of things are missing.”

“It’s not a question of wanting to control everything. It’s simply that I want to work with people who want to make a film that looks like a film and not a trailer or marketing tool. It’s common practice today to make a trailer long before the film is completed but then they make a trailer that doesn’t correspond to the film so they try to make the film fit the trailer, it’s absurd.”

Dahan continued that his response was not due to naïveté over Hollywood’s penchant for taking control of the editing process.

“I’ve made a Hollywood film,” he said, referring to the 2010 Renée Zellweger-starrer My Own Love Song.

“I know what to expect. I know how it works: after three versions, if it’s not right, you get out of the editing suite and it’s the producer who takes over. But this is a French film. This shouldn’t be an issue. The US distributor, however powerful he is, doesn’t have access to the rushes normally.”

TWC acquired Grace of Monaco in March 2013, originally announcing it was planning a limited release in the US on December 27, positioning the film for an award season play. This was then moved to a November release before being postponed until 2014. 

Veteran French producer Pierre-Ange Le Pogam produced through his picture Paris-based Stone Angels production company alongside YRF Entertainment’s Amel and Uday Chopra.

Inferno Entertainment handles international sales.