A BAG OF MARBLES / Un sac de billes
North American Premiere • Drama • France, 2017
DCP • 2.35 • Dolby 5.1 • Color • 110 min
Directed by: Christian Duguay
Written by: Alexandra Geismar, Jonathan Allouche, Benoît Guichard, Christian Duguay, Laurent Zeitoun
Based on the book by: Joseph Joffo and Claude Klotz
Cinematography: Christophe Graillot
Film Editing: Olivier Gagan
Original Score: Armand Amar
Produced by: Nicolas Duval Adassovsky, Yann Zenou, Laurent Zeitoun (Yume – Quad Films), Gaetan Davis (La Compagnie Cinématographique), TF1 Films Productions, Gaumont.
Cast: Dorian Le Clech (Joseph), Batyste Fleurial (Maurice), Patrick Bruel (Roman), Elsa Zylberstein (Anna), Bernard Campan (Ambroise Mancelier), Kev Adam (Ferdinand)
International Sales: Gaumont
This heartwarming adaptation of Joseph Joffo’s enduring memoir tells the story of the Nazi occupation through the eyes of two young Jewish boys struggling to survive on their own. Paris, 1941: Joseph and Maurice are the sons of Roman, the local barber. At 10 and 12, the boys have so little understanding of the persecution of Jews that Joseph thinks nothing of swapping his yellow star for a bag of marbles. Despite their naiveté, Roman knows that their best chance to escape the Nazi roundup is to flee on their own to Vichy France, where their older brothers Albert and Henri have found safe haven. Always one false move from tragedy, these tenacious urchins survive on courage, ingenuity and more than a bit of cunning as they make their precarious way through France hoping to reunite with their family. More than anything, it’s their brotherly bond that gets them through their ordeals. Patrick Bruel resonates as the Jewish family patriarch Roman, while newcomers Dorian Le Clech and Batyste Fleurial register an almost agonizing vulnerability as hapless innocents trying to outrun the barbarous machinery of war.
When it comes to choosing subject matters for his films, writer/director Christian Duguay isn’t easily intimidated. After all, Joseph Joffo’s widely admired holocaust autobiography has sold more than 20 million copies over the years. On top of that, the book has been adapted once before, by the brilliant auteur Jacques Doillon in 1975, a film now regarded as an early masterpiece. But Duguay felt that the story still had enough untapped potential to warrant a version that more faithfully followed the book. Duguay was last represented at COLCOA in 2013 with his popular Jappeloup, about a friendship between a man and his miraculous show-jumping horse. A French Canadian, Duguay first made his mark directing Emmy and Golden Globe-winning television miniseries. His transition to the big screen began with genre films in Hollywood, including The Assignment (1997), starring Donald Sutherland and Ben Kingsley, and the Wesley Snipes actioner The Art of War (2000). Duguay pivoted to drama with the acclaimed miniseries Hitler, The Rise of Evil (2003), and Coco Chanel (2008), starring Shirley MacLaine and Malcolm McDowell.