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PRODUCTION France

Canet turns to spying

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With an abundance of genre films dominating French production at the moment (including detective, thriller and science-fiction films), the spy thriller also reappears on the scene.

Before he joins Christian Carion and Nikita Mikhalkov on the set of Farewell (see article), Guillaume Canet will already have had the chance to explore this world in Un simple espion (“A Simple Spy”), Nicolas Saada’s debut feature, for which shooting started in Paris on November 19.

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The actor whose career is on the rise – he was lauded in France and Germany for his role in Hunting and Gathering [+see also:
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, and will soon appear in The Key [+see also:
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(released on December 19), Rivals [+see also:
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(January 19) and Cortex [+see also:
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(January 30); and praised for his directorial work (Tell No One [+see also:
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) – stars in Un simple espion alongside fellow French actors Géraldine Pailhas and Hippolyte Girardot and UK actors Stephen Rea (Neil Jordan’s favourite actor and an Oscar nominee for The Crying Game), Alexander Siddig (A Lost Man) and Archie Panjabi (A Mighty Heart [+see also:
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, Shooting Star 2005)

A former journalist at the Cahiers du Cinéma, who first came to attention as co-writer of Playing ‘In the Company of Men’ by Arnaud Desplechin, Saada has directed three shorts, including Les Parallèles (nominated for a César in 2005 and selected at Cannes Critics’ Week 2004).

As screenwriter of Un simple espion, Saada retraces the misadventures of Vincent (Canet), a luggage inspector at Roissy airport who secretly snatches items from people’s suitcases. When he discovers an explosive device concealed in the suitcase of a Syrian diplomat headed for London, he is questioned by the French secret service (the DST) who decide to recruit him to help prevent a terrorist attack on British soil.

Produced by Michaël Gentile for The Film (who are also behind Fabrice Du Welz’s Vinyan, in post-production), Un simple espion has a budget of €7.27m.

The film’s other backers include France 2 Cinéma (€1.3m in co-production funding and pre-sales), Canal + (€1.2m), the Ile-de-France region (€360,000), and Studio 37 (€2.8m). The latter are also co-producing, have delegated the domestic release to Mars Distribution (in the second half of 2008) and are currently negotiating international sales.

Shooting is set to last 40 days with five weeks in Paris and three in London in January. The soundtrack is to be provided by the famous French group Air (favoured by director Sofia Coppola).

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(Translated from French)

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