Mact Productions produces features by Anne-Marie Etienne and Manoel de Oliveira
by Fabien Lemercier
01/09/2011 - In Luxembourg on Monday, shooting started on Paris-based Belgian director Anne-Marie Etienne’s fourth feature: La Sieste Sous le Figuier (“The Siesta Under the Fig Tree”). This bittersweet comedy boasts a cast including Gisèle Casadesus (My Afternoons With Marguerite [trailer]) and Anne Consigny (nominated for the Best Supporting Actress César in 2009 and 2010 for A Christmas Tale [trailer] and Rapt! [trailer]), alongside Belgian thesps Marie Kremer (Restless) and Jonathan Zaccai.
Scripted by the director, the film centres on 95-year-old Selma, who is from a modest background and earns a bit of money by reading cards in a "clairvoyant" café. She is a long-standing friend of Nathalie, a chef in Brussels on the verge of chucking it all in, who is in turn friends with Christophe, an overworked lawyer and single father of three little girls.
They meet Joëlle, a social worker who is devoted to others whilst neglecting her own family and friends. Nathalie, Christophe and Joëlle are going through a crisis and have lost sight of what should be their priorities.
Having found out that Selma is seriously ill, Nathalie decides to take everyone away, children included, to spend summer by the Moselle River. There, Selma will teach them to overcome their fears and will help them to make crucial decisions. Over the course of the summer, under the fig tree, they will realise that the woman they thought they were helping to die, will help them to live.
Produced by Martine de Clermont-Tonnerre for Mact Productions, La Sieste Sous le Figuier is co-produced by Tarantula Luxembourg and Tarantula Belgium. Pre-bought by Direct 8 and Canal +, the film is also backed by Sofica Manon.
Shooting will take place until October 6 in Luxembourg and Brussels. French distribution will be handled by Océan Films, while international sales are still under negotiation.
Mact Productions is also majority co-producer on 102-year-old Portuguese maestro Manoel de Oliveira’s Gebo and the Shadow. Produced with Lisbon-based O Som e a Fúria, the film – which has entered production and is set to shoot in Paris – stars Michael Lonsdale (Best Supporting Actor César 2011 for Of Gods and Men [trailer, film focus]), Claudia Cardinale, Jeanne Moreau, Ricardo Trepa and Leonor Silveira. The feature, which has received a €300,000 advance on receipts from the National Film and Moving Image Centre (CNC), is adapted from a play written in 1923 by Raul Brandão and will trace the misfortunes of a poor, elderly couple who are faced with an unworthy son.
(Translated from French)