June 11, 2015

Ladji Nyé, photo de tournage, ©lachauvesouris 

A courageous and dedicated producer, Eric Névé is the producer of Daouda Coulibaly‘s first film, Ladji Nyé. A modern and contemporary vision of Malian society. The film is being shot in Senegal and Mali during June.

What inspired you to produce Ladji Nyé?

Two things: the subject matter and the director’s talent. I’d already produced a lot of first films by writers who are now established names (Jan Kounen, Frédéric Schoendoerffer, Romain Gavras, Kim Chapiron etc…) because I love the vitality, the sincerity, the potential which a first work has. I follow my instincts first and foremost and I was immediately charmed by Daouda when I met him at the Locarno Festival in 2012. I found him very organised, with a personal and insightful point of view on things. He knows exactly what he wants. Moreover, he wanted to make a genre film, a thriller with a political twist, a genre which I know and love deeply, and about a subject which fascinates me, the recent outbreak of cocaine trafficking in West Africa.

The film is currently in production in Senegal. Is it a difficult film to produce?

Very difficult because we have a huge variety of different sets (technically, this is one of the hardest aspects to manage in cinema). We have moved base camp 4 times (Thiès, Saly, Dakar et Bamako). In addition, this sort of film demands a lot of planning on a daily basis and therefore the intensity of filming is always extremely high. It’s physically challenging, and the heat is a further complication. 

Ladji Nyé, photo de tournage

 Yes, one of the most difficult I’ve ever made, mainly because of the genre (a thriller). French aid, which is regulated to support classic screenwriters (although one can make films by genre writers, for example Martin Scorsese) all turned the project down (advance on receipts, World Cinema aid) because of the genre. Fortunately the ACPCultures+ Programme does not operate on the same model and allows the artists to choose their subject matter and the way they treat it. ACPCultures+ was the first to support us, and without their support the film wouldn’t exist. Orange, Canal Plus and TV5 then followed.  

What are the economic consequences for African countries (where the film is shot)?

The immediate consequences are simple: a lot of money is spent there. African technicians are provided with work, where there are very (too) few films produced locally, others receive training, all of them complete their technical education beside technicians from France. Additionally, the film brings economic benefits to all spheres: accommodation, catering, transport etc..., and finally the State, which pockets a fair proportion of the economic spin-offs via indirect taxation. In short, a shoot is a godsend for a region. There’s good reason why every region in the world is trying to attract film productions and increase the means to entice them. 

Did you train or employ many African technicians/operators?

As far as training is concerned, we organised a week of skill-sharing at Dakar, in collaboration with the senior management of Senegalese cinematography. I am not an instructor, let’s leave that term for those whose profession it is, we simply disclosed the secrets of film to those who were interested. This work, according to those who participated, was pioneering, practical and extremely rewarding. Then, as to the film itself, we have a predominantly African team overall, as well as many trainees. From this point of view, and it’s something very dear to my heart, the film is a success. Many young people will have made their debut in this film, and I’m very proud of that. I share wholeheartedly the same objectives as the ACPCultures+ programme.


Ladji Nyé, photo de tournage

How are you going to distribute the film in Europe?

Orange Studio and Indie Sales are going to sell the film internationally. Orange has considerable financial means at its disposal, and Indie has a unique expertise regarding writers’ films (three films selected at Cannes this year). Together these two companies will form a distribution network specifically for the film, a total coverage of the European territory, because I believe the film has a considerable commercial potential. 

What measures should be taken to improve exposure of African cinema in Europe?

In order for African cinema to be better known, it has to actually exist. What the ACPCultures+ programme is doing is excellent, they should be better equipped so that they can help even more films. What’s more, it’s quite simple, the cinema hall distributors should be encouraged to take African films and relieved of the financial risks arising from the release costs by subsidising part of these. This is already possible, through funding by MEDIA (Europe Créative).

 Ladji Nyé, photo de tournage

Crédits photos: ©lachauvesouris

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