08 February 2006
Hungarian director Bela Tarr spoke to journalists at the 37th Hungarian Film Week in Budapest about the revival of his project, The Man From London, which was stalled last winter after the death of French producer Humbert Balsan.
The film, which is to begin shooting in March, is now a French-German-Hungarian co-production featuring an international cast. Tilda Swinton will star opposite Czech actor Miroslav Krobot. The cast also features British actress Leah Williams and Hungarian stars Janos Derzsi and Istvan Lenart. German cameraman Fred Kelemen is the Director of Photography. Tarr and Laszlo Krasznahorkai wrote the script based on a novel by Georges Simenon.
Co-production companies are T.T. Filmmuhely from the Hungarian side, 13 Productions from France and Von Vietinghoff Filmproduktion from Germany. Tarr said a U.K. producer was dropped from the project when the producer was unable to fulfil the conditions of sale and leaseback and after the U.K. Film Council rejected the proposal.
The film will shoot in Corsica and in Hungary. Tarr and Hungarian producer Gabor Teni said they hoped to conclude shooting this calendar year and take two to three months for post-production work. Tarr said he would like to release the film before Cannes in 2007.
The producers hope the names of Swinton, Simenon and Tarr will help sell the film at the box office. The project does not yet have a global distributor.
The film will be shot in English, French and Hungarian. Support from the French National Film Centre requires that 51% of the dialogue be in French.
Tarr told journalist that he received word of Balsan's suicide two days before he was to begin shooting in Corsica in February 2005. Upon the French producer's death, French bank Coficine froze the disbursement. Using the project's Hungarian funds, plus extra support from Eurimages and ARTE, Tarr shot for nine days on the sets he had built for $2.3m (Euros 2m.)
Tarr returned to Hungary to reorganise. He said was obliged to strike a new deal with Coficine, which held all rights to the film via its contract with Balsan's company, Ognon Pictures.
Tarr has cut the project's budget, originally $5.9m (Euros 5m), by $838,494 (Euros 700,000) and cut the number of shooting days.