REPORT: Work-in-Progress, Les Arcs European Film Festival 2017
by Fabien Lemercier
A focus on the seven films that have caught Cineuropa’s attention during this year’s pitches and presentations at Les Arcs
A packed cinema screen yesterday morning at the 9th Les Arcs European Film Festival for the Work-in-Progress section, which allowed professionals to find out more about 15 feature films in the presence of their directors and producers, shedding light on the choice of sequences, the filmmakers' intentions and estimated timings for the end of post-production, via a short discussion with Frédéric Boyer, the festival's artistic director. A very popular event for many international sellers and representatives of other festivals (notably Carlo Chatrian for Locarno). The 15th Franco-German Film Meetings kicked off today at Les Arcs and is due to run until 20 December, organised by Unifrance and the FFA, with many debates on the program (the analysis of co-productions between the two countries, the impact of the recent French accreditation reform, the comparison of media timelines, a focus on the cooperation of French and German producers with Poland, etc.). Two German films were presented at Work-in-Progress, one of which attracted the attention of Cineuropa: Prelude.
Produced by Weydemann Bros, Sabrina Sarabi's debut feature focuses on David, a piano student who delves into the world of music and first love. Full of appetite for life, but fighting mounting pressures, he begins to lose control. Starring Louis Hofmann, Liv Lisa Fries, Johannes Nussbaum, Ursina Lardi, Saskia Rosendahl and Jenny Schily, Prelude gave a promising first impression at Work-in-Progress in terms of its psychological intensity and formal dress.
The mise-en-scène sequences in Girl, the debut feature from the Belgian director Lukas Dhont (produced by Minuet with Frakas Productions and the Dutch company Topkapi Films), were also fairly striking. The film’s main character is a transgender teenager who dreams of becoming a ballerina, an incredibly ambitious goal which leads to turbulence in her relationship with her father.
(Lukas Dhont presents his film Girl with Frédéric Boyer - © Antoine Monié / Les Arcs European Film Festival)
Another debut feature with some interesting details is Obey by the British director Jamie Jones (a Harvest Pictures and Beyond Fiction production), which tells the story of the misadventures of a 19-year-old man, somewhat adrift and living with his alcoholic mother in a rough environment, until a romantic encounter with a beautiful hedonistic girl opens the doors to an unsuspected universe. But his naivety does little to prepare him when those doors suddenly bang shut.
Also of note is The Human Part by Juha Lehtola (produced by the Finnish company Bufo with the Danish company Smile Aps), a black comedy about poverty and a man practically living on the streets while letting his parents believe that he runs a business.
Finally, with regard to the less "normalised" films in the running for the Eurimages Lab Project Award , three titles stood out in particular. The first beingGold Is All There Is by the Italian director Andrea Caccia (produced by Dugong Movies with France and Switzerland)which sits on the edge of documentary (without dialogue) in an impressive wilderness where a young lost boy, a hunter, a police officer, a nudist and an old gold digger cross paths against a background crime. Diamantino by theduo composed of Portuguese director Gabriel Abrantes and British director Daniel Schmidt (produced by Aries Movies), also caught the audience's attention. An entirely exuberant work, which is very original and rich in special effects, mixing football, political satire, romantic comedy, the detective genre and fairy tales, with a plot which focuses on the world’s leading football star, whose career comes to a halt when he loses his genius, leading him into an odyssey of neo-fascism, the refugee crisis and genetic manipulation.Cineuropa was also intrigued by the documentary Cassandro The Exotico by French director Marie Losier (produced by Tamara Films), which portrays an entirely atypical lucha libre star (Mexican wrestling).