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Film de Bourgogne
New Zealand director Niki Caro made her name with the much acclaimed award-winning film Whale Rider in 2002. So when her production team approached the Commission du Film de Bourgogne in Avallon for assistance with her new project to be shot in Burgundy, there was much excitement at the prospect. This was two years ago. Help was needed to find locations, extras had to be sourced and technicians provided.
Vintner’s Luck is an adaptation of a novel by Elizabeth Knox, and it tells the tale of Sobran, a peasant wine-maker in 19th century France and his life-long relationship with an angel as they grapple with the sensual, the sacred and the profane in search of the perfect vintage. Niki Caro likes this side of life as Whale Rider demonstrated. ‘Spiritual?’ she is asked about Vintner’s Luck, “Oh yeah! But it’s very earthy!” she laughs. “Way much more about being human than about being divine.”
Shooting began on the film in New Zealand in February 2008 before coming to Beaune. The locations in Burgundy were perfect with the medieval fortress town of Châteauneuf-en-Auxois, Château Commarin and Château de Berzé-le-Châtel with its 13 towers in the Saône-et-Loire providing the romantic backdrops. What could be more beautiful than the Bout du Monde and the chapel at Nolay, the wine village of Meursault and the Abbey Sainte-Marguerite de Bouilland?
Belgian star Jérémie Renier is cast at Sobran, with Keisha Castle-Hughes playing his beautiful wife, Celeste. Gaspard Ulliel and Vera Farmiga play other important starring roles. Stunning photography is guaranteed by Grant Major who worked as Director of Photography on Lord of the Rings and King Kong.
After ten exhausting weeks, the shoot in Burgundy was completed and you can see the film on DVD.
The Commission du Film de Bourgogne is a free service offered to makers of films,
documentaries, audio visual, advertisements, video clips and experimental projects in Burgundy. Set up in 1997 by Gaëlle Laurent, locations, freelance technicians and all production assistance is provided to visiting film makers.
The collaboration on Vintner’s Luck has been a successful one with some of the funding being supplied by the Burgundian regional government.