Thierry Lenouvel • Producer
by Fabien Lemercier
15/06/2012 - Thierry Lenouvel has been a regular at big film festivals since he started up as a producer in 2002 with Ciné Sud Promotion, but he did particularly well at the last Cannes Film Festival with three co-productions in the programme: La Playa D.C. [trailer] by Juan Andrés Arango (Colombia/Brazil/France) in the Certain Regard, Villegas by Gonzalo Tobal (Argentina/Netherlands/France) at a special screening in the official selection, and La Sirga by William Vega (Colombia/France/Mexico) at the Directors’ Fortnight. These three films are very representative of the passionate and international-minded producer’s editorial line of making audiences discover new high-calibre talent.
Cineuropa: Was is Ciné Sud Promotion’s editorial line?
In the beginning, I focused on the Mediterranean. I started up the Montpellier Film Festival before launching an aid fund for screenplay development at the Amiens Film Festival in 1996. The more I provided expertise, accompanied auteur filmmakers, and acted as a go-between, the more I thought about starting up in production. I broadened my scope to include films from Africa and Latin America. My luxury is that I have always chosen the films on which I wanted to work: I want to have fun. I have mostly intervened in a minority way, but never as a "sleeping partner".
Beyond discovering new auteurs, on which criteria do you choose your projects?
I like strong subjects that are anchored in today’s society, like Algerian women’s fight in Rachida (Un Certain Regard in 2002), female circumcision in Moolaadé (Certain Regard award in 2004), the West Bank separation wall in Wall (Directors’ Fortnight in 2004), the difficult reconciliation between Serbs and Bosnians in Fuse (Silver Leopard in Locarno in 2003), or Bogota’s black ghetto in La Playa D.C.. But I will never forget purely cinematographic aspects, such as with La Sirga, a feature debut of quite astonishing mastery.
How do you fund your projects?
In France, our working tool is the former Fonds Sud that has now been brought together with the Aide aux films en langue étrangère (lit. “Aid to films in a foreign language”) to become the Aide aux cinémas du monde (lit. “Aid to world cinema”). I am a little baffled as these two funds had different philosophies. One was aimed at cooperation and development, while the other was more technical and more aimed at European co-productions. You could ask yourself what the commission would do faced with two artistically strong projects, one a quite “rich”, €6m European film project, and the other a €700,000 film project from the South, from Africa or Latin America. Will they help the poorer or the richer project?
What are your current projects?
We have opened ourselves up to India with Qissa by Anup Singh (in the editing stage), produced by Germany (Heimatfilm) and co-produced with the Netherlands (Augustus Film) and India. I am also in the editing stage for De la terre sur la langue (lit. “Earth on the tongue”) by Colombian filmmaker Rubén Mendoza. We have also co-produced Tue-moi (lit. “Kill me”) by Emily Atef with Germany and Switzerland, and we are starting on Run, Boy, Run by Pepe Danquart with Germany (Bittersuess Pictures) and Poland. We will also be launching five French projects starting with the social thriller Un désert d'étrangers (lit. “A desert of strangers”) by Raphaël Vion (to feature Thierry Frémont, Gilles Cohen, and Adèle Exarchopoulos) and Marseille by Sepideh Farsi. The three other projects are in film treatment phase. They are: a social comedy by Bourlem Guerdjou, a rock, green comedy by Anna de Palma (to star Helena Noguerra), and a first feature by Fejria Deliba.