Backup backs 'Flore,' 'Force'



By John Hopewell, Emiliano de Pablos

Gallic financier also boards 'Rooms'

SEVILLE, Spain -- France's Backup Films has invested in "Cafe de Flore", from Jean-Marc Vallee ("C.R.A.Z.Y.") and "By Force", starring Isabelle Adjani and Eric Cantona.

Sold internationally by Films Distribution, and distributed in France by UGC/TF1, "Flore" toplines Vanessa Paradis in what Vallee calls an "epic love film." It is set in contempo Montreal and '60s Paris, where it is currently shooting.

Written by Vallee, "Flore" is produced by Canada's Item 7 with France's Monkey Pack Films ("Mammuth").

Orange-owned Studio 37 has acquired worldwide rights to hard-boiled thriller "Force", the directorial debut of ex-con Frank Henry, co-writer of Canal Plus France's smash TV series hit "Braquo". Henry is god-fathered by Olivier Marchal ("36 Quai des Orfevres").

Gregoire Melin's Kinology will handle international sales on "Force". Cantona plays a con sprung from goal against his will by a police superintendant, limned by Adjani, who forces him to infiltrate a criminal gang.

Also shooting, "Force" is one of the first two productions from France's Marilyn Prods., headed by former Gaumont manager Franck Chorot. It is co-produced by Studio 37, Luxembourg's Iris Prods. and Belgium's Iris Films, both managed by Nicolas Steil.

Managing film investment funds worth over Euros33.6 million ($45.9 million), Backup is both a financial broker and fund operator, Pascal Guerrin, Backup's head of co-production, said at the Seville European Film Fest.

It manages two French Sofica tax-break vehicles, Coficup, which gap-finances French-nationality films mainly against a first-position corridor on international sales, and Cofanim, which invests in animated projects, both features and TV series, Guerrin added.

Backup gap-financed both "Flore" and "Force".

On "Force", rather unusually, Backup wore both its brokers and fund managers hats on one single film, setting up the Luxembourg and Belgium co-production as well as gap-financing.

Of other recent investments, the French financier put up gap funding on the Arte-backed France-Lebanon co-prod "Hotel Rooms", toplining Charles Berling and written-directed by Danielle Arbid (Directors' Fortnight player "A Lost Man").

A modern love story set in Beirut with a thriller background, "Rooms" is co-produced by Les Films Pelleas and Maia Cinema. Backup also brought in Swedish regional funding via Film i Vast.

Also, Cofanim backed "Emilie Jolie", produced by TeleImages Kids, part of the Zodiak Media Group.

Current film financing, which suffers from a massive drop in private equity investment Stateside and high-profile bank exits in Europe, allows new growth possibilities for Backup.

"We are currently working on new funding structures and vehicles, in France but also and mainly outside France," Guerrin said.


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