EXCLUSIVE: Previous investments include Clouds of Sils Maria and Under the Starry Sky.
Ezekiel Film Production, the fledgling film financing body set up by Lebanese financier Antoun Sehnaoui in association with French actress and producer Julie Gayet, has boarded compatriot filmmaker Ziad Doueiri’s upcoming L’Insulte.
The picture, produced by Jean Bréhat and Rachid Bouchareb at Paris-based 3B Productions, is due to shoot later this year. It revolves around a trivial dispute between a Palestinian Muslim man, living in the Shatila refugee camp in Beirut, and a Lebanese Christian which ends up in court and risks bringing Lebanon to the brink of war.
“The script is finished,” said Bréhat. “There’s no cast as yet but they will probably be Palestinian and Lebanese,” said Bréhat.
Doueiri’s last film The Attack, about an Arab surgeon living in Tel Aviv whose life is shattered when his wife commits a suicide attack in the city, was banned in Lebanon because parts of it were shot in Israel.
L’Insulte is the third film to have received the support of Ezekiel Film Production, after Olivier Assayas’ Competition title Clouds of Sils Maria and Dyana Gaye’s Under The Starry Sky.
Aimed at “developing meaningful cinema projects”, Ezekiel offers financial know-how and support, sometimes taking an equity stake, if necessary, to help get films off the ground at any stage of their development.
Sehnaoui decided to create Ezekiel after a meeting in 2011 with actress Gayet, who produces alongside Nadia Turincev under the Rouge International banner.
“We realised we had a similar vision about how films could be financed and cinema in general,” said Gayet.
“It’s not a gap financing fund. It’s a fund that’s there from the beginning of a film in partnership with the producer, offering a strategic reflection on how the budget can be drawn up and a guarantee of equity if a production needs it, but not necessarily. It complements and supports the work of the producer.”
Gayet and Turincev do not have a formal agreement with Ezekiel but they has been acting as consultants on the projects it has invested in up until now.
“He has his own editorial line but we help him out with finding and vetting projects,” says Gayet.
The actress is hosting a dinner in Cannes this week to officially launch the fund.
“It’s been operational for some 12 months, working under the radar, we thought it was a good time to talk about it more publicly here,” said Gayet.
Alongside working with Ezekiel, Gayet also recently launched Cinémaphore, another fund aimed at finding private finance for auteur projects, with the support of French businessman Francois Pinault and in association with Clouds of Sils Maria producer Charles Gillibert.
Pinault previously invested in Xabi Molia’s 8 fois debout which was produced Rouge International.
“It was while working on Rouge International’s productions that we started reflecting on how to get private investors involved in our projects,” said Gayet.
Rouge International has just completed Cristian Jimenez’ The Voice Off, about a woman who decides to take a break from TV, the Internet, television and reading for a year, which is currently in the process of finalising its sales agent.
Its next production Olivier Loustau’s La Fille du Patron, a social comedy set against the backdrop of a factory in northern France, is due to go into production in June.