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CANNES 2017 Official Selection/France

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Top-of-the-range French productions at Cannes

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- With Polanski, Varda, Schroeder, Depardon, Lanzmann, Caravaca, Ratnam, Sauvaire and Téchiné, the line-up at Cannes is racked with appeal

Top-of-the-range French productions at Cannes
JR and Agnès Varda on the set of Visages, villages

With the official selection of the 70th Cannes Film Festival (to be held from 17 to 28 May) now complete (see article), the very high level of French productions being shown out of competition and in special screenings is clear to see. 

Out of competition it is Polish maestro Roman Polanski (winner of the Palme d’Or in 2002 and also selected in competition on the Croisette in 1979 and 2013, among many other honours) who will make a splash with his 21st feature film: Based on a True Story [+see also:
film review
film profile
]
. The cast features Emmanuelle Seigner and Eva Green in an adaptation by the filmmaker and Olivier Assayas of the book of the same name by Delphine de Vigan which tells, in the style of a Hitchcockian thriller, the story of one woman taking possession of the life of another. Produced by Wassim Béji for WY Productions, Based on a True Story will be distributed in France by Mars Films, and is being sold internationally by Lionsgate.

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Also being shown out of competition is documentary Visages, villages [+see also:
film review
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]
by Agnès Varda and JR, which centres around the encounter between the famous filmmaker and the artist, who specialises in open-air photographic exhibitions. Their shared passion for images and, more recently, the places and devices used to show them off, led them to shoot a film in France, far from inhabited towns, on a more or less improvised journey with JR’s (magical) photographic truck. Produced by Ciné Tamaris and Social Animals, the film was made on a budget of €1 million including co-production funding support from Arte France Cinéma, Arches Films and Rouge International, and a pre-purchase from Canal+. The film will be released in France by Le Pacte on 28 June. 

Three big names also feature in the special screenings line-up with their respective documentary films. In Le vénérable W., Barbet Schroeder paints a portrait of a highly influential Burmese Buddhist monk, and finds himself in the middle of the country’s daily racist reality, in which Islamophobia and hate speech cause violence and the destruction of a country that is nonetheless 90% Buddhist, a religion founded on a peaceful, tolerant and non-violent way of life. Produced by Les Films du Losange (which will release the film in France on 7 June and is handling international sales), Le vénérable W. was made on a budget of €1.31 million, including co-production support from Arte France Cinéma and Swiss company Bande à part Films, a pre-purchase from Ciné+ and an advance on receipts from the CNC.

The no-lesser-well-known Raymond Depardon will also be on the Croisette with 12 jours [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
, which plunges us into the environment of a psychiatric hospital to reflect on the maximum duration of stay authorised by law for any individual admitted without their consent. Produced by Palmeraie et Désert, the film was made on a budget of €1.44 million including co-production support from France 2 Cinéma and a pre-purchase from OCS. It will be released in France by Wild Bunch, which is also selling the film internationally.

The monumental Claude Lanzmann is also returning to Cannes with Napalm [+see also:
trailer
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]
, a documentary filmed in North Korea 60 years after the country was destroyed by bombing. Produced by Margo Cinéma on a budget of €1.77 million, the film was supported by an advance on receipts from the CNC.

Two more documentaries produced by France will also be shown in special screenings: Carré 35 by Eric Caravaca (produced by Les Films du Poisson on a budget of €0.62 million including an advance on receipts from the CNC – with distribution in France and international sales being handled by Pyramide) and Demons in Paradise [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
by Sri Lankan filmmaker Jude Ratnam (with Parisian company Sister Productions on board as associate producer).

Also being shown in a special screening is French-Korean co-production Claire’s Camera [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
by Hong Sang-soo, starring Isabelle Huppert, a film shot during the 2016 Cannes Film Festival which tells the story of a high school teacher and writer.

Finally, there will be a special midnight screening of A Prayer Before Dawn [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
by Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire, starring British actor Joe Cole in the role of a man incarcerated in one of the toughest prisons in Thailand who, refusing to die there, takes up Thai boxing and joins a brotherhood that helps him to redeem himself. Co-produced by French company Senorita Films with the United Kingdom and China, the film will be distributed in France by Wild Bunch and is being sold by HanWay

All without forgetting Nos années folles [+see also:
film review
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film profile
]
by André Téchiné (the film was produced and is being distributed in France by ARP Sélection, was pre-purchased by Canal+ and benefitted from an advance in receipts from the CNC, and is being sold by Celluloid Dreams), which will be shown in a special screening celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Cannes Film Festival, animated film Zombillenium [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
by Arthur de Pins and Alexis Ducord (see article; distribution in France: Gebeka, sales: UDI) in a screening for children, and Djam [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
by Tony Gatlif at the Cinéma de la Plage.

(Translated from French)

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