Quebec Scene: Levy and Asselin features roll at Cinemaginaire

Montreal: Cinemaginaire producer Denise Robert has two features on the go this spring, a $10 million majority European coproduction called Le Jour et la nuit from French writer/philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy, and Le Siege de l'ame, a fantasy thriller and the second...

Montreal: Cinemaginaire producer Denise Robert has two features on the go this spring, a $10 million majority European coproduction called Le Jour et la nuit from French writer/philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy, and Le Siege de l’ame, a fantasy thriller and the second feature from Quebec director Olivier Asselin.

Jour et la nuit stars Alain Delon, film legend Lauren Bacall, Arielle Dombal and Quebec actress Julie Du Page.

Robert was first introduced to the project by Unifrance Film topper Daniel Toscan du Plantier. Coscripted with Jean-Paul Enthoven, Jour et nuit is Levy’s feature debut.

In this story, a prominent writer withdraws to the seclusion of a small Mexican village only to find his peace of mind undone with the arrival of a film producer and actress.

A 10-person stcvq Quebec crew is servicing the shoot (20% Canadian). Pierre Latour’s Film Tonic is handling distribution.

As for Asselin’s film, produced by Cinemaginaire’s Arlette Dion, it’s described as an elaborate turn-of-the-century fantasy thriller with lost museum artifacts and missing beauties.

Robert acquired the rights to the film from Amerique Film in April ’95. It’s being shot on a budget of $1.4 million, with investment from Telefilm Canada and sodec. Principal photography goes from May 14 to June 14.

The cast was incomplete at press time, but so far includes Emmanuelle Bilodeau, Lucille Fluet and Remy Girard. Craft credits go to dop Daniel Jobin, art director Stephane Roy, pm Martine Allard and costume designer Helene Rainbird.

Le Siege de l’ame will be in theaters next year and will be distributed by Malofilm Distribution.

Cinemaginaire recently wrapped Le Pain des Oiseaux, a tv movie directed by Denys Arcand.

Robert says Arcand’s English feature project is on hold: ‘Denys is considering his options.’

Cinemaginaire features in development include projects from director/actress Paule Baillargeon (Sonia, Le Sexe des Etoiles), documentary filmmaker/Gazette columnist Josh Freed and playwright Rene-Daniel Dubois (Being at Home with Claude).

Pretty Poison

Principal photography begins May 21 through to mid-June on Pretty Poison, a National Studios mow location shoot for Fox Network.

David Burton Morris is directing this remake of the 1968 movie starring Tony Perkins and Tuesday Weld. A dark, ironic tale, not without humor, the film tells a 1920s small-town story of a young, disturbed ex-con who becomes the victim of a beautiful, but alas, even more deranged seductress, says producer Ian Patterson. Patterson worked here earlier on Cinar Films’ Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Francis Kenny is the dop, Diane Hughes is the art director, and Grant Show (Melrose Place) and newcomer Wendy Benson star.

The shoot is crewed by the stcvq.

Mega-buck TV anthology from the Scott bros

Telescene Communications and Scott Free, filmmaking brothers Ridley and Tony Scott’s company, have announced an agreement to produce The Hunger, a 22 half-hour drama anthology of the erotic and bizarre.

Showtime has acquired u.s. rights to the us$12.5 million, f/x-intensive series, slated to premier in October.

The fabulous Scott brothers’ first foray into tv promises carnal adventure with Faustian consequences, and will draw on stories and characters from 60 years of popular pulp-fiction horror.

Episodes will be introduced by a prominent actor, wraparound/ morphing host who’ll offer demented summaries of the evening’s entertainment/lesson. The producers are promising ‘a distinct creative force rarely found on television today.’

The production sounds like a lot of fun and is certainly good news for Montreal’s economy.

Series executive producers are Telescene president Robin Spry, Paul Painter, Tony and Ridley Scott and Scott Free’s Jeff Fazio.

A prominent lineup of teleplay writers is on board, including Harlan Ellison, Howard Rodman, Steven and Audrey Salzberg, Jordan Katz, Fazio, Claire Noto and David Schow.

Ridley Scott, of course, directed and produced Thelma and Louise, and was the director on Black Rain, and the seminal sci-fi classic Bladerunner.

In addition to the horror feature The Hunger, Tony Scott directed the soon-to-be-released The Fan, Days of Thunder and Top Gun, to name but a few.

There’s other good news at Telescene these days: the company has acquired worldwide tv rights to Frederick Forsyth’s Fist of God. Presales for a four-hour miniseries proposal based on the espionage/Desert War story were reportedly brisk at mip-tv.

Meanwhile, the Roger Spottiswoode miniseries Hiroshima keeps on winning prizes, the latest being a first-place Gold Camera Award at the 29th U.S. International Film & Video Festival in Illinois. Hiroshima is also a finalist at the ’96 Banff Television Festival (June 9-15).

The first three episodes of The Hunger will be shot at the Shepperton Studios in London, with episodes four to 22 being shot on 35mm film in Montreal starting mid-September.

The deal was brokered by Dan Black of Heenan Blaikie and David Tenzer and Daniel Grover of cca. Telescene has foreign rights.

Sovimage shoot begins

Production is underway on Lobby, a nine-hour Productions Sovimage dramatization on the influence and power of political lobbyists.

Scripted by Michelle Allen and directed by Jean-Claude Lord (Jasmine), the series stars Isabel Richer as a professional lobbyist, lawyer and mother of two.

Shooting wraps in early August with a few scenes slated for Morocco.

Headed by president Vincent Gabriele, Sovimage productions include Triplex, Les Grands Proces and Steinberg.

Lobby is budgeted at $7 million and will be broadcast this fall on the TVA Network.

No stopping them now

When documentary filmmakers Elaine Dumont and Serge Noel started shooting Voisins mur-a-mur, their 16mm, 47-minute portrayal of the sights and sounds of multi-ethnic Montreal on moving day, they were working on a minuscule budget funded by the Canada Council, the nfb and sodec.

Some well-placed people must have liked what they were seeing.

By the time the film went to post it had secured presales to Television Quatre Saisons and TV5, got plugged into the Cable Production Fund, and finally wrangled more money for post out of Telefilm Canada.

To top it off, the Concordia University graduates have a CTV Fellowship grant, which means they can pitch a subtitled English version at the Banff Television Festival. Once English Canada is conquered, Dumont and Noel, who have a company called Les Films Herisson Macadam, plan to hit the European festival circuit.