Michel Leclerc delves into Pingouin et Goéland et leurs 300 petits
by Fabien Lemercier
- The filmmaker, who is accustomed to making social comedies, is trying his hand at a documentary about the Sèvres Children’s Home, which is being staged by Ex Nihilo and sold by Doc & Film
Michel Leclerc is taking his baby steps in the world of documentary with Pingouin et Goéland et leurs 300 petits (lit. “Penguin and Gull and Their 300 Little Ones”), which will be the sixth feature by the director, who is best known for The Names of Love [+see also:
film profile] (Cannes Critics’ Week in 2010, César Awards for Best Actress and Best Original Screenplay in 2011, also nominated in the categories of Best First Feature Film and Best Actor), Télé Gaucho [+see also:
film profile] (nominated for the César Award for Most Promising Actor in 2013), The Very Private Life of Mister Sim [+see also:
film profile] (nominated for the César Award for Best Actor in 2016) and Battle of the Classes (set to be released in France on 3 April 2019).
The screenplay, written by Leclerc himself, tells the story of Penguin and Gull, who, despite being unable to have children, ended up with 300 of them, whom they rescued from the clutches of the wolf that was stalking Paris… Indeed, the film’s primary focus is the Sèvres Children’s Home, founded by Yvonne and Roger Hagnauer (who were given the Scout names Gull and Penguin) during World War II, in 1941, in order to accommodate children from the Paris region who had fallen victim to food rationing. But soon, during the occupation, it turned into a refuge, serving as a shelter for many Jewish children, orphans and people of all nationalities affected by the war, as well as for adults living outside the law (foreigners, Jews, members of the resistance and those evading the Compulsory Work Service, for example). In the post-war years, Yvonne and Roger Hagnauer – secular, humanistic and peace-loving primary school teachers, who came from a communist background – practised novel teaching methods true to the spirit of progressive education (involving activities revolving around art and language, international exchanges and so on). The school, which was headed by Yvonne Hagnauer until 1970, was moved to Meudon in 1958 and closed in 2009.
This was an establishment unlike any other, and Michel Leclerc will tell its story through archive footage and interviews (which were shot this winter in Paris, in the Ile-de-France region). The filmmaker also has a direct connection with the Sèvres Children’s Home, as his own mother was a pupil there.
Produced by Muriel Meynard for Ex Nihilo, Pingouin et Goéland et leurs 300 petits has secured support from the CNC’s advance on receipts, from the Palatine Etoile and CinéCap Soficas, and from the Holocaust Remembrance Foundation. The French distribution will be handled by Sophie Dulac and the international sales by Doc & Film.
Sister companies Agat Films & Cie and Ex Nihilo are currently wrapping the shoot for Gloria Mundi by Robert Guédiguian (see the article), have L’angle mort by Patrick-Mario Bernard and Pierre Trividic in post-production (see the article), and released Who Killed Lady Winsley? [+see also:
film profile] by Hiner Saleem in French theatres on 2 January. They are due to launch The Summer House [+see also:
interview: Valeria Bruni Tedeschi
film profile] by Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi (unveiled out of competition at Venice) on 30 January, Whatever Happened to My Revolution [+see also:
film profile] by Judith Davis on 6 February, Adopt a Daddy [+see also:
film profile] by Xavier de Choudens on 6 March and Mon frère by Julien Abraham (article) on 29 May.
(Translated from French)
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