Les sapins bleus begins shooting
by Fabien Lemercier
28/11/2006 - Principal photography on Les sapins bleus (lit. “The Blue Firs”), the debut feature by Romuald Beugnon, began in Orléans yesterday. The French/Belgian co-production (60%/40%) is being produced by Emmanuel Agneray and Jérôme Bleitrach for Bizibi Productions and the Dardenne brothers’ company Les Films du Fleuve.
The film stars Jean-Pierre Cassel, Jean-Claude Brialy, Micheline Presle, Philippe Nahon (the butcher in Gaspar Noé’s I Stand Alone), Yolande Moreau(2005 Cesar for Best Debut Film and Best Actress for When the Sea Rises), Firmine Richard (Best Actress Award at the 2002 Berlin Film Festival for 8 Femmes [trailer]) and Marilyne Canto (A Comedy of Power [trailer]).
Beugnon, a 31 year-old magician and FEMIS graduate, who won an award at the 2006 Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival for his short Béa, co-wrote the script for Les Sapins with Benjamin Leroux.
The film – somewhat of a mix between a police comedy and a pure thriller – is set in the Sapins Bleus retirement home, where Simon (Cassel), an ex-police officer, ends up against his will. In the home, he meets a range of colourful characters: nurse’s aides Christine (Moreau) and Chantal (Richard), elderly rocker and karaoke fan Francky (Nahon), the new director of the home Madame Laval (Canto) and her predecessor Alfred (Brialy), American Jane Latour-Jackson (Presle), a former industrialist, the head nurse and others.
But when a murder takes place Simon decides to carry out his own investigation. In the film, Beugnon wants to "play with the genre in an offbeat way by working on the depth of field in order to render the vision of the elderly people on the screen who are characterised by a universe that is quite trodden, lacking in depth and area."
Pre-bought and co-produced by Arte France Cinéma, Les sapins received €200,000 from the Eurimages fund, pre-sales financing from Canal +, backing from France’s Centre Images and Belgium’s Wallimage and, last but not least, two SOFICAs.
The film’s seven-week shoot will take place until the end of January, the first four weeks in Orleans followed by three weeks in Liege.
Memento Film International – in charge of world sales – will also handle the film’s French distribution in the second half of 2007.
(Translated from French)