Two-time Cannes winner Bruno Dumont will direct “L’Empire,” set in the wilds of northern France.
Set up at France’s 3B Prods, which has produced all of Dumont’s films, “L’Empire” will be produced by Muriel Merlin with Jean Brehat and Rachid Bouchareb. Story turns on a village loner who kills a farm girl’s violent father, aids a kid with strange seizures, and kills a guard. Then a miracle reveals the man to be more than he seemed. Dumont’s sixth feature has pulled down a pre-buy from Gallic paybox Canal Plus and a provisional advance subsidy at screenplay stage from France’s Centre Nationale du Cinema film board. Also written by Dumont, “L’Empire” has additionally tapped funding from the Nord-Pas de Calais regional film board. The Netherlands’ Contact Film, a regular Dumont distributor, has pre-bought Benelux rights. Rolling Aug. 16, “L’Empire” returns Dumont to northern France where he shot 1997’s “The Life of Jesus,” 1999’s “Humanity” and part of 2006’s “Flanders.”
[First page and storyboard, courtesy of Cahiers du Cinéma ]
Title taken from article by Joe Hardwick originally published in Studies in French Cinema, 2007, Vol. 7 Issue 3, Full title of article Fallen angels and flawed saviours: marginality and exclusion in La Vie de Jésus and La Vie rêvée des anges
Bruno Dumont with Flandres stars Samuel Boidin and Adélaïde Leroux
Biography from his official website brunodumont.com
Bruno Dumont was born in 1958 in northern France, in Bailleul. It is there – a small town in French Flanders, between Lille and Dunkerque – that Dumont shot his first two movies, The Life of Jesus (1997) and Humanité(1999). Both films were acclaimed at the Cannes Film Festival: the first one got a special mention from the Golden camera jury; the second one got the Grand Prize of the Jury, plus Best Actor and Best Actress awards. Dumont quickly imposed himself as a unique filmmaker, going against the tide of contemporary French production.
According to him cinema is another way – with more fun – of practicing philosophy. Dumont indeed used to study philosophy (religions and aesthetic of cinema) and then became philosophy teacher in high school. Besides his academic activities he learnt how to be a director by making command movies. “I filmed candies, tractors, ham, bricks, coal… It is how I learnt cinema!”
With his camera, mastering visual grammar, Dumont stopped shooting machines tools to focus on the essence of men, what leads them, what makes them tragic. On these sacred-oriented topics he keeps a nonbeliever approach by shooting bodies, feelings, nature, with no intellectual content. How realistic sequences in Dumont’s films might appear (with non professional actors), there is no social realism in his cinema: what Bruno Dumont seeks, either shooting in Flanders (The Life of Jesus, Humanité, Flanders in 2006), in California (Twentynine Palms, 2003) or in Paris (Hadewijch, 2009), it is what he calls the “sweet light” hidden in any human being despite the violence and ugliness of our world. Dumont is currently working on his 6th film, The Empire.
Introductory Masters of Cinema article, The Polarizing, Magnificent Cinema of Bruno Dumont by Nick Wrigley
Senses of Cinema article, Bruno Dumont’s Bodies by Darren Hughes
- Twentynine Palms
- La vie de Jésus
I consider all five films masterpieces.
La vie de Jésus (1997)
Screen captures coming soon
Reverse Shot article on the film here
Twentynine Palms (2003)
Screen captures coming soon
Senses of Cinema article on the film here
MUBI round up of Hadewijch reviews here
All screen captures taken by myself.Read less