North American Premiere • Thriller, fantasy • France, 2016

DCP • 2:35 • Dolby 5.1 • Color • 80 min

Directed by: Jean-Patrick Benes

Written by: Jean-Patrick Benes, Allan Mauduit, Benjamin Dupas

Cinematography: Jérôme Alméras

Film Editing: Vincent Tabaillon

Original Score: Alex Cortés

Produced by: Sidonie Dumas (Gaumont), Mathieu Tarot (Albertine Films), Louis Letterier

Cast: Ola Rapace (Ares), Micha Lescot (Myosotis) Thierry Hancisse (Coach) Hélène Fillières (Altman),

International Sales: Gaumont


This testosterone-fueled dystopian thriller is set in a demi-apocalyptic Paris of 2035. Disillusioned masses huddle in polluted shantytowns at the feet of monuments. Multi-national conglomerates control the government, including the police. As a diversion from the misery and poverty, much of the population turns to the Arena, a televised spectacle of ultraviolent gladiatorial contests. Competing pharmaceutical companies openly dope Arena fighters as a means of advertising their performance enhancing products. Ares, played by hunky Swede Ola Rapace (Skyfall), is a former contender long past his prime, but when his sister is arrested on trumped up charges, this badass with a heart of gold agrees to be a guinea pig for the latest wonder drug. If it works, he might win enough fights to buy her freedom. Only trouble is, no one has ever taken the drug and lived.


While the typical French filmmaker might shun pure genre, for his second feature writer/director Jean-Patrick Benes has embraced it. Looking at the economic crisis in Greece, Benes wondered what France would be like under similar circumstances. To create this devastated Paris on a restricted budget, Benes was quick to make use of every resource available to him, even filming in the chaos of Kiev’s Maidan occupation. Benes scored a surprise hit with his first feature, the cult comedy Ugly Melanie (2008) co-directed with Allan Mauduit.  In 2012, the two created the canal+ comedy series Kabul Kitchen, about a French entrepreneur trying to succeed with a French restaurant in war-torn Kabul. For the Arès screenplay, Benes and Mauduit teamed up with the prolific series television writer Benjamin Dupas.