The UK's Film Council's Premiere Fund for commercially-oriented films is pumping $700,000 (£500,000) into its first foreign-language production, French director Patrice Leconte's L'Homme Du Train.

Pathe will distribute the comedy drama in the UK, while Pathe International is handling international sales. Shooting started this month in France, with Philippe Carcassonne producing and Carl Clifton co-producing for the UK's Tubedale Films.

Jean Rochefort stars as a former teacher longing to live dangerously. French rock 'n' roll icon Johnny Hallyday plays a disenchanted bank robber who longs for a quiet life.

Although the Film Council has pledged to work with European partners as well as US companies, the Premiere Fund's presence alongside such backers as Canal Plus is expected to raise eyebrows. The fund is geared towards films that can play wide and the UK is notoriously tough for foreign-language titles.

Leconte has enjoyed critical and commercial success at home and abroad with such films as The Hairdresser's Husband, Monsieur Hire and Ridicule. But even English-language auteurs such as Woody Allen and Ken Loach have yet to secure UK distribution for their latest efforts.

Nevertheless, the Premiere Fund is currently riding high on its first productions - Gosford Park and Mike Bassett: England Manager - while Amelie has shown that at least one or two foreign-language films can make a splash in the UK each year.

"The Premiere Fund's first non-English language title demonstrates the Film Council's commitment to European production and its determination to broaden the range of European films made available to UK audiences," said the Council in a statement.