Cantet–Barratier: An unlikely duel
by Fabien Lemercier
24/09/2008 - There is quite an anticipated duel scheduled for today in French theatres due to the release of two films perfectly illustrating the diversity of local cinema: Cannes 2008 Palme d’Or winner and French Oscar submission The Class [trailer, film focus] by Laurent Cantet and Faubourg 36 [trailer], the second feature by Christophe Barratier, following his international hit The Chorus [trailer].
The two titles have clearly opposite styles. The latter is a low-budget, highly contemporary, documentary-style film starring non-professional actors. The former, a European co-production featuring popular actors (Gérard Jugnot, Clovis Cornillac and Kad Merad) and a plot that takes us to the past and remains close to a classic film tradition.
Both budgets are quite different too (€2.48m against €28m), and while one director recreated a classroom, the other recreated 1936 Paris.
Launched by its producer Haut et Court on 345 screens, The Class was co-produced by France 2 Cinéma and backed by the National Film Centre (CNC) and the Ile-de-France region, with pre-sales from Canal + and Ciné Cinéma.
Pathé is launching 595 prints of Faubourg 36, which is a French (70%), German (20%), Czech(10%) co-production by Galatée Films and Pathé Renn with Constantin Film and Blue Screen. The film was backed by, among others, France 2 Cinéma, France 3 Cinéma, Eurimages and pre-sales from Canal + and TPS.
The difference in budget between the two titles might be compensated for at the box office due to the outstanding promotional campaign of The Class. Foreigner audiences may also take their side, as both titles turned out to be international sales hits, and even share the same US distributor, Sony Pictures Classics.
Besides this duel and five other US titles, also hitting screens is The Man from London [trailer] by Hungarian maestro Béla Tarr (see interview). A Hungarian/German/French co-production, this hypnotic film, shown in competition in Cannes last year, is released by Shellac on a 12-print run.
(Translated from French)