Controversy is brewing overdirector credit on 2005 French blockbuster March Of The Penguins. Director of photography Laurent Chalet has filed acomplaint in a Paris court demanding shared director's credit on the Oscar-winningnature documentary.
Along with Jerome Maison, asecond DP on the film, Chalet spent 13 months shooting the film in theAntarctic and given the hardship and effort expended, now wishes to be creditedwith the film's listed director, Luc Jacquet, as well as sharing a portion ofthe box-office. Maison, however, hasn't made any comments.
Producer Yves Darondeautells ScreenDaily.com, "The shootwas done in difficult conditions; that was no surprise to anyone. And thesuccess of the film wasn't foreseen but it seems to me that every time a filmdoes well now, people take pleasure in attacking it for financial gain."
Darondeau contends that nodiscussions ever took place over credit and says that the filing is "out ofplace and unjustified. We must't confuse the metier of an auteur who givestheir personal point of view to the film and the work of a DP which - eventhough he may be very talented Ð is the work of a technician."
A further hearing in thecase is scheduled for early next year and Darondeau says it will just be leftup to the lawyers. "I'm not worried, I just find it regrettable. To ask fordirector's credit is impossible, but if it's a question of money, that'ssomething else. We're open to a dialogue but Chalet won't even talk to us soit's very bizarre."
The likelihood of Chaletwinning his claims appears rather slim in a country that deifies the auteur.Other recent complaints in somewhat similar cases have fallen on deaf ears inthe French courts.
March Of The Penguins made over $122m worldwide and was voted BestDocumentary Feature at the Oscars earlier this year. The film has helped tospur a trend of high-profile nature documentaries and will be followed up byJacquet with The Fox And The Child,which Darondeau says "is going very well," and will be released at Christmas2007.