What a stellar year it's been for Why Not Productions. The Paris-based firm is winning awards and enjoying box-office success while maintaining an annual output which most of its competitors can only envy.
One secret of its success: work regularly with the same collaborators, such as Bruno Podalydès, Arnaud Desplechin, Jean-François Richet, Jacques Audiard, Xavier Beauvois and Claire Denis.
“We are always faithful to the same authors,” says Pascal Caucheteux, who co-founded Why Not with Grégoire Sorlat in 1991. “We produce real filmmakers that have their own opinions and world.”
The 2009 Cannes film festival marked a high point for the production firm. Jacques Audiard's A Prophet, a drama focussing on a young, innocent Arab guy who quickly comes of age in the French underworld, co-produced by Why Not and Chic Film, won the Grand Prix award. Variety hailed the film as a “tough, absorbingly intricate account of a young French-Arab thug's improbable education behind bars.”
Ken Loach's Looking For Eric, another of its co-productions, took home the Ecumenical Jury Prize. The tale of a soccer-mad postman who pines for the woman he once loved 30 years ago, it stars Eric Cantona, Steve Evets and Stephanie Bishop. Due to open in Australia in September, the film has done sizable business in France but was less well received in the UK.
In February, Caucheteux shared with Thomas Langmann the Daniel Toscan du Plantier Prize for Best French Producer of 2008. That was his reward for producing Arnaud Desplechin's A Christmas Tale, described by the Los Angeles Times' Kenneth Turan as a “captivating portrait of the most gorgeously fractious dysfunctional family.”
Currently shooting in Paris is Happy Few, Antony Cordier's romantic drama starring Marina Foïs, Nicolas Duvauchelle, Roschdy Zem and Elodie Bouchez, about two couples who meet and fall in love, then lose sight of each other.
Why Not has had a long association with Bruno Podalydès, producing all his features including The Perfume of the Lady in Black and Mystery of the Yellow Room. Such admirable loyalty doesn't always pay off: Podalydès' latest film, Bancs Publics (Versailles rive droite), three intersecting stories set in the city of Versailles, with a cast headed by Mathieu Amalric, Pierre Arditi, Michel Aumont, and Sabine Azéma, opened poorly in France earlier this month.
Among upcoming titles from the prolific company are Claire Denis' White Material,
an African-set drama of unrest and rebellion, starring Isabelle Huppert, Christophe Lambert, Nicolas Duvauchelle and Isaach de Bankolé; and Christophe Honoré's Non Ma Fille, Tu n'Iras Pas Danser (No, My Daughter, You Won't Go Dancing), a family chronicle featuring Chiara Mastroianni, Marina Foïs, Marie-Christine Barrault and Julien Honoré.