Marmaï continues his ascent in Alyah
by Fabien Lemercier
15/09/2011 - A rising star of French cinema since his nomination for the Best Male Newcomer César 2009 for The First Day of the Rest of Your Life, followed notably by Murphy’s Law [trailer], Living on Love Alone [trailer] and A Happy Event [trailer] (screening in world premiere today at Toronto and set to be released in France on September 28), Pio Marmaï (pictured) stars in Elie Wajeman’s debut feature Alyah (a Hebrew word meaning ascent), which is currently shooting.
Other noteworthy cast members include Adèle Haenel (nominated for Best Female Newcomer César 2008 for Water Lilies [trailer] and on screens as of next Wednesday in House of Tolerance [trailer]), Cédric Khan in his first acting role since Don’t Forget You’re Going To Die in 1996, Guillaume Gouix (Jimmy Rivière [trailer]), Sarah Lepicard and Spanish actress Mar Sodupe.
Co-scripted by the director and Gaelle Macé, the film centres on 25-year-old Alex (Marmaï). Since his mother’s death, he has been living on casual jobs to cope with the debts run up by his brother Isaac (Kahn), who has become a burden after initially being his source of support.
Not knowing how to leave his brother, who is constantly in debt and invasive, he takes advantage of the Law of Return and decides to leave for Israel, a country he doesn’t know, to join his cousin Nathan who is setting up a business over there. But Alex realises that if he goes away, he will have to leave behind his nephew, his former love, his long-standing friend and Jeanne (Haenel) whom he has just met. So, caught between his "alyah", his milieu, his complex love affairs and his destructive brother, Alex will have to find his way in life.
Structured like a film noir (debt, loyalty and betrayal, the hope of changing everything...), the film explores the subject of the search for identity, the thorny questions related to siblings and the real prospect of emigrating to a country where fantasy and mythology merge.
Produced by Lola Gans for 24 Mai Production, Alyah is co-produced by Films Pelléas, France 2 Cinéma and Rhône-Alpes Cinéma. Having kicked off on August 8 in Lyon, the 34-day shoot is continuing in Paris until next Tuesday and the team will then relocate to Tel Aviv at the start of October.
Also backed by the advance on receipts committee of the National Film and Moving Image Centre (CNC), Emergence, Sofica Soficinéma, Panavision and Wallpaper, the feature (whose screenplay was read out at the latest Premiers Plans Film Festival in Angers) will be released in France in the second half of 2012 and sold internationally by Rezo Films.
(Translated from French)