Laughs aplenty in When Pigs Have Wings
by Fabien Lemercier
21/09/2011 - "First and foremost, it’s a comic cry of rage… A desire to change things, to bring a breath of fresh air, to make both sides laugh, the Israelis and the Palestinians, by showing the absurdity of the situation." With his debut feature, French/German/Belgian co-production When Pigs Have Wings [trailer], launched today in over 110 theatres by StudioCanal, writer Sylvain Estibal deftly pulls off his feat. Starring an outstanding Sasson Gabbay (The Band’s Visit), the tragicomic, farcical film is very often hilarious, punctuated by surprising twists and turns and is a salutary ode to peace.
Inspired mainly by Chaplin and Henri Verneuil’s The Cow and I (1959), When Pigs Have Wings traces the misadventures of a Palestinian fisherman from Gaza who by chance hauls up in his nets a pig which has fallen from a cargo ship. Determined to get rid of this impure animal, he nonetheless decides to try to sell it in order to improve his impoverished life. This leads him to some far-fetched and ill-advised dealings.
"In the film, what unites both sides is the common rejection of the pig which then becomes the intermediary, the link between the two communities" explained Estibal. "It’s a film about an individual caught in a conflict. I’m crying out in the face of the waste, the hatred and a religion too often interpreted literally whilst its fraternal message is ignored".
Emphasising that When Pigs Have Wings does not "take either side, but is against the absurdity of the situation and in favour of human dignity", the director believes he has broached the Israeli-Palestinian conflict "from a human and farcical angle, without aggressiveness but without sparing anyone", simply with "a desire to shake up overly rigid political discourses to come back to the destiny of a simple individual".
When Pigs Have Wings was produced by France (Marylin Productions – see news,StudioCanal and Rhamsa Productions) with Belgium (Saga Film) and Germany (Barry Film). Its €4.24m budget included, among others, backing from Eurimages, from the Franco-German co-production mini-treaty, the NRW fund, the Malta Film Commission, Canal+ and Orange Cinéma Séries. International sales are being handled by StudioCanal.
This Wednesday also sees the release of Bertrand Bonello’s sumptuous House of Tolerance [trailer] (in competition at Cannes – see review - Haut et Court Distribution in about 100 theatres), while Mars Distribution is launching a 627-print run of Christophe Barratier’s War of the Buttons [trailer] (see news and news).
Also hitting theatres are Emmanuelle Millet’s promising Twiggy (recently unveiled at Toronto – see
This Wednesday’s panorama of European releases is completed by two documentaries: Nadia El Fani’s Laïcité Inch'Allah! (“Secularism, If God Wills”, Jour2fête in 16 theatres) and Patrick Séraudie’s Une Vie avec Oradour (Nour Films in eight theatres).
(Translated from French)