Houda Benyamina and Lucile Hadzihalilovic for the Groupe Ouest
by Fabien Lemercier
- The upcoming projects by the two directors are joined by six other titles in the Breton programme’s 2017 selection
Selected from among 228 applicants, eight projects and their nine French-speaking writer-directors make up the Groupe Ouest’s 2017 selection and will thus benefit from a writing coaching programme that includes four group working sessions at a residency in Brittany this year. And two well-known female directors burn particularly bright on the list of participants: Houda Benyamina and Lucile Hadzihalilovic.
After shooting to fame in spectacular fashion with Divines [+see also:
interview: Houda Benyamina
film profile] (which won the Caméra d'Or at Cannes in 2016, and the César Award and Lumière Award for Best Debut Film in 2017, as well as being nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Foreign-language Film, among other accolades), Houda Benyamina will travel to Finistère to work on Pour Assia, which she is co-writing with her usual writing partner, Romain Compingt, and which revolves around the character of Assia, a young Algerian resistance fighter. Having been tortured and then sentenced to the guillotine in 1957, she is ready and willing to die for her people. But Jean, her French lawyer, who happens to be head over heels in love with her, manages to snatch her from the clutches of death by turning her into an international icon. As she returns to her country, free at last after a five-year stretch in prison, Assia, who is under surveillance from all sides, is not at ease with her love for this flamboyant hell-raiser…
Meanwhile, Lucile Hadzihalilovic has been selected with La Reine des Neiges (lit. “The Snow Queen”). The director, who won awards at San Sebastián with her first two features (the New Directors Award for Innocence in 2004, and the Special Jury Prize and the Best Cinematography Award for Evolution [+see also:
film profile] in 2014), is putting the finishing touches to a screenplay hinging on two characters. Fourteen-year-old Rose has lived in a small mountain village her entire life. Her best friend, 16-year-old Lucas, is an orphan, just like her. When they were children, they were fascinated by the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale The Snow Queen, and dreamed of exploring the world, just like the two children in the story. Years later, the Snow Queen pops up in their lives once again as they witness the shoot for a film that is adapting the fairy tale. Rose and Lucas then meet Cristina, an actress who is just as mysterious and alluring as the Queen character she is playing. When the film crew packs up and leaves, Lucas disappears, and Rose is convinced that he has followed Cristina. She then takes off in search of him…
The Groupe Ouest 2017 selection also includes six feature-debut projects: La Camel Driving School by Swiss-Moroccan filmmaker Halima Ouardiri, J’irai boire avec les abeilles by Léa Triboulet, Le bruit des anges by Blandine Jet, Chien de casse by Jean-Baptiste Durand, Le Minotaure by Germain Huard and Grisélidis by Guillaume Kozakiewiez.
The laureates of the previous editions include such titles as Eva Doesn’t Sleep [+see also:
film profile] by Pablo Agüero, Melody [+see also:
interview: Bernard Bellefroid
film profile] by Belgium’s Bernard Bellefroid, and Adama [+see also:
film profile] by Simon Rouby and Julien Lilti, not to mention the upcoming films by Leyla Bouzid (Trois histoires d'amour et de désir) and Alanté Kavaïté (Submergée).
(Translated from French)