Other new projects include prison drama Jailbirds (Taularde) starring Sophie Marceau.


Paris-based sales company Elle Driver has taken on world sales of Palestinian filmmakers Tarzan and Arab’s black comedy Dégradé capturing life on the Gaza Strip.

The film joins a strong EFM slate, which also includes Golden Bear contenders Nobody Wants the Night and Diary of a Chambermaid as well as Emmanuelle Bercot’s Standing Tall.

Twin brothers Tarzan and Arab’s short film Condom Lead, revolving around the complications of making love in a conflict zone, premiered at Cannes in 2013.

Their debut feature is set against the backdrop of the real-life liberation of a stolen lioness from the compound of the Hassanein family, one of Gaza’s most powerful clans.

“We’ll be showing first images of the film which is based on true events in Gaza in 2007,” said Elle Driver co-chief Adeline Fontan Tessaur, ahead of the European Film Market (Feb 5-13).

The film focuses on a beauty salon opposite the compound which is heaving with female clients: a bride-to-be, a pregnant woman, a bitter divorcée, a devout woman and a pill-popping addict.

Stuck in the salon, with the prospect of death drawing ever nearer, the women start to open up to one another. How will the day end? Will they lose their lives for the sake of “liberating the lioness”?

Using dark humour, the film captures the reality of life in Gaza for its 1.8 million inhabitants through the conversations of the women as they wait for the gunfire to subside.

Palestinian Hiam Abbass and Maisa Abel Hadi, who won best actress for her performance in Habibi at the Dubai International Film Festival in 2011, feature in the ensemble cast.

Long-time collaborator Rashid Abdelhamid of the Jordan-based Made in Palestine Project is producing alongside Marie Legrand and Rani Massalha of Paris-based Les Films du Tambour. Producer and director Massalha’s previous credits include the West Bank-set Giraffada. French Mille et Une Films, Full House and Lebanese Abbout Productions are also on board as co-producers.

Elle Driver has a strong track record in handling Middle East films having previously sold American-Palestinian Cherien Dabis’s May in the Summer.

French titles

The company will also be in Berlin with a slew of new and upcoming French titles.

It has recently added Audrey Estrougo’s intriguing Jailbirds (Taularde) starring Sophie Marceau as a woman who voluntarily takes her lover’s place in prison only to find herself seemingly trapped there without his support.

It is produced by Julie Gayet and Nadia Turincev of Rouge International. The Artist cinematographer Guillaume Schiffman is attached to the film which is currently shooting.

“My goal is to paint the portrait of a contemporary woman and to question her place in our society, without ever leaving the closed gates of the penitentiary,” said Estrougo of the project. Her previous credits include Une Histoire Banale and Toi, Moi Les Autres.

Elle Driver will show “very strong” first images from Emmanuelle Bercot’s Standing Tall about a boy who has been in and out of juvenile courts ever since his mother abandoned him at the age of six-years-old.

It revolves around the efforts of the social workers and magistrates following his case to stop his downward spiral.

“Juvenile justice is based on the idea that nothing is entirely written in stone for a child and that through educational and support programs, the downhill slide can be stopped and things can be taken in hand,” explains Bercot in the notes for the film.

“How this can be handled without throwing in the towel is an issue this film addresses,” explains Bercot in the notes for the film.

It unites actress-turned-director Bercot with Catherine Deneuve, who also appeared in her well-received On My Way, which premiered in competition in Berlin in 2013. The cast also includes Sara Forestier, Benoît Magimel and Rod Paradot.

Other upcoming French titles include Pascal Pouzadoux’s intergenerational dramedy The Final Lesson about a 92-year-old woman who decides her death into her own hands.

It is based on Noëlle Châtelet’s French bestseller La Dernière Leçon, which in turn was inspired by her real-life experiences with her mother. Elle Driver will show first images for the film.

The company will also continue sales on Mélanie Laurent and Cyril Dion’s English-language ecology documentary Tomorrow, which is being made to time with, United Nations climate change talks in Paris in December 2015.


Completed titles on the slate include Gustavo Hernandez’s Local God about a rock band which unleashes an evil spirit when it films a music video in an abandoned gold mine.

It is the second feature for the Uruguayan director, whose debut feature La Casa Muda premiered in Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight in 2010.

In the festival, Elle Driver is handling Isabel Coixet’s opening film, the arctic love triangle Nobody Wants The Night, starring Juliette Binoche, Rinko Kikuchi and Gabriel Byrne, and Benoit Jacquot’s Diary of a Chambermaid, starring Léa Seydoux as a beautiful young maid who arrives in Paris from the provinces.