Farewell M. Haffmann sets abandoned due to Coronavirus
After Le jeu, his previous feature film, Fred Cavayé decided to adapt Jean-Philippe Daguerre’s play Adieu M. Haffmann. Created in 2016, it was produced by the Atelier théâtre actuel and was awarded several Molière awards: Molière du théâtre privé, Molière de l’auteur francophone vivant, Molière de la révélation féminine for Julie Cavanna and Molière du comédien dans un second rôle for Franck Desmedt.
The story plunges the spectators into the Paris of 1942, under the German occupation. A Jewish jeweller, Joseph Haffmann is obliged to entrust his shop to his employee François Mercier on condition that the latter hides it in his cellar. The employee accepts but proposes to his boss a very particular agreement…
Auteuil, Lellouche and Giraudeau in the casting
Produced by Vendôme Production, Dadai Films, France 2 and Belga Productions, Adieu M. Hoffmann brings together a cast of popular actors. Thus, Joseph is interpreted by Daniel Auteuil, François by Gilles Lellouche and Blanche by Sara Giraudeau.
The script adapted from the play is by the director himself and Sarah Kaminsky, already co-writer of La Ch’tite famille and Raid dingue with Dany Boon.
If it were to be released in theatres in 2021, Adieu M. Hoffmann might not be visible on the big screen at that date, the fault of Covid-19 having abruptly stopped filming. The sets have been set up, however, just waiting for the actors’ lines.
Berthe and Androuet Streets as if frozen in time
Under the leadership of Philippe Chiffre, the decoration teams had already installed a scenography in the 18th arrondissement of Paris.
The chief decorator, who had already worked on Charles Matton’s Rembrandt – for which he received a César for the best decorations – or Guillaume Canet’s Les petits mouchoirs and Ne le dis à personne, has taken over the streets of Berthe and Androuet. (fanspots link)
In these empty streets, a few people are walking in our time in full confinement. The anachronism is at its peak. Gloved and masked neighbourhood residents wander through these streets decorated with 1940s decorations. Other onlookers stop to take pictures, amused by these surreal scenes.
In the rue Androuet, the decorators installed wooden panels on the facades of the houses. You will notice shopfronts such as a French beer seller, a shoemaker named Moatti, a clothing store, an apothecary, a corsetier, an antique dealer, a furrier, a hairdresser, a wine merchant named Au bougnat bigot and of course the Mercier jewellery store.
Androuet Street is very well known to movie lovers. At the end, in the corner, is Mr. Collignon’s grocery store, Au marché de la butte, seen in the feature film Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain.
As for rue Berthe, it has posters on its walls. Propaganda reproductions were made: “It’s time for the new generation”, “Shut up, beware”, “Mother’s Day on May 25, 1941” and “Europe united against Bolshevism”, but also posters for the National Lottery, an arrest to denounce the Jews or a speech by Pierre Laval addressed to French workers.
A sudden interruption
Only one week of shooting out of the two planned could be held. From 9 March, around sixty people making up the technical team were present in both streets, not counting the many extras. Indeed, some round-up scenes were filmed during this short period of time.
The beginning of this filming was also special because the sanitary barrier measures had already been taken. So people, including actors for their scenes, had to be no closer than a metre away.
The weekend before the lockdown, the teams packed up quickly. Some of the fronts were removed so as not to disturb the inhabitants, but the elements on the walls remained.
Fred Cavayé, his crews and the actors don’t know when filming will be able to resume and under what conditions. Will this event also have consequences on the writing of the film? Planned for a release next year, can the date be maintained as well? Nothing is less certain.
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By Anthony Thibault