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Cannes: Wild Side Founder Launches Jokers With Full Slate

Manuel Chiche, co-founder of Wild Side, a leading distributor of upscale genre movies in France like Nicolas Winding Refn's "Drive," Park Chan-wook's "Old Boy" and Bong Joon-ho's "Snowpiercer," is now set to launch the Jokers, a Paris-based production and distribution house.

Whereas Wild Side, which was backed by Wild Bunch, only handled financing and distribution, the Jokers will be fully involved in developing and producing indie films, with an emphasis on emerging and up-and-coming genre helmers.

"Going independent and officially stepping into production was a natural evolution for me. I've formed strong bonds with talents like Winding Refn and Bong since their debuts, advising them at script stage all the way to the editing room, and I'm now looking forward to take our collaborations to the next level," Chiche told Variety in an exclusive interview. Variety exclsuively announced the shingle and slate in the May 19 Cannes Daily.

"There is a promising new generation of filmmakers, such as Ryan Gosling ('Lost River'), Jim Mickle ('Cold in July'), Jeremy Saulnier ('Blue Ruin') and David Gordon Green ('Prince Avalanche') coming out and we're all working with them on their next films."

Chiche has three movies playing in Cannes: Michael C. Hall starrer "Cold in July" in Directors' Fortnight, fantasy/neo-noir "Lost River" in Un Certain Regard and Andrew Hulme's crime thriller "Snow in Paradise."

For this new venture, Chiche is reteaming with Jean Labadie at Le Pacte, his co-financier/co-distribution partner, and will join forces with Wild Side on the digital and homevideo rights.

Le Pacte will co-finance acquisitions on top of co-distributing movies with the Jokers. Shingle is backed by Cofiloisirs banks.

"Manuel and I have been working together since 1986 and we complement each other perfectly. He's really into genre movies, Asian fims and I'm more into European auteur films," said Labadie at Le Pacte.
On the Jokers' development slate, there are projects by Refn, Gosling, Wheatley, Bong, Green, Mickle and Saulnier.

Joel Thibout, managing partner of Backup Media, who just worked with Chiche on "Cold in July," said Chiche has thrived thanks to its his "great eye for talent and dedication to developing the careers of directors. There are a lot of companies who are trying to get into genre films but they often buy movies to throw them on DVD or VOD, but Manuel doesn't do that. He cares a lot about his films and invests in talents."

Chiche has tapped a mix of well-seasoned and younger marketing and distribution execs: Violaine Barbaroux, managing director and head of co-productions and financing; Brigitte Dutray, technical director; and Thomas Creveuil, marketing topper.

Kicking off the Jokers' acquisition slate is Adam Smith's "Trespass," with Michael Fassbender and Brendan Gleeson from Protagonist;Rodney Ascher's "The Nightmare," (his follow-up to "Room 237") from Content; Timo Tjahjanto's "The Night Comes for Us," (from XYZ); Toa Fraser's "The Dead Lands" (from XYZ); and Ben Wheatley's "High Rise." with Tom Hiddleston, Sienna Miller and Jeremy Irons (from HanWay)

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