Paris Bataclan Attack Turns Cinematic Fiction Into Real Horror

  • Release of `Made in France' film about Paris terrorism delayed
  • `Les Cowboys' running in French in cinemas as planned

The gunmen and suicide bombers who killed 130 people in Paris on Nov. 13 turned into reality the horror scenario of a soon-to-be released movie.

QuickTake Fighting Islamic State

"Made in France," directed by Nicolas Boukhrief, had been slated for a Nov. 18 release, and tells the story of a French journalist who infiltrates a terrorist cell that is preparing to create havoc in Paris. Posters for the movie featuring a Kalashnikov in the shadow of the Eiffel tower with a tagline "the threat comes from inside" could still be seen in Paris metro stations a few days after the assaults.

The fictional attack takes place on the Champs-Elysees, the city’s best-known avenue, rather than Paris’s bohemian eastern end where the assaults happened on Nov. 13. Still, the parallels were close enough to prompt producer Pretty Pictures to postpone the film’s release.

"A new date will be set,” the company said on its Facebook page the day after the attacks. “Today, we are sad, along with the rest of France."

Delays and changes to movies and television series are not unusual in the wake of major events, and releasing the film so soon after the attacks would have been in poor taste, the director said.

‘Struck at Heart’

“A thriller such as Made in France requires, for instance, to show violence in a way that can’t be offered to the public when victims, injured people and their families, are going through an unspeakable tragedy along with millions of Frenchmen," Boukhrief said in an interview with Gala magazine on Nov. 19. "The time will come to see this movie but it can’t be one of mourning and trauma."

On Friday, the country officially mourned the people who died in the attacks, with President Francois Hollande saying “France was struck at its heart.”

In Made in France, one of the lead actors, Ahmed Drame, says he accepted the role in 2014, a year before the Kouachi brothers went on a shooting spree at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo’s headquarters in Paris and Amedy Coulibaly attacked a kosher supermarket, together leaving 17 dead. In fact, the film’s plot draws its inspiration from the actions of Khaled Kelkal, the main suspect of a series of bombings in 1995, and Mohamed Merah, who killed paratroopers and children and a teacher at a Jewish school in 2012.

In an interview with news website Slate on Nov. 24, after the latest Paris attacks, Drame said he was struck during the shooting of the film by how hard it is to track a terrorist act of this sort because it’s perpetrated by the most unlikely candidates.

‘Les Cowboys’

Police investigations have suggested that the attackers of this month’s assaults were plotting yet another strike, this time in the business district of La Defense, on or around Nov. 18, when the French army and police forces raided the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis, killing Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a Belgian national and the suspected architect of the Nov. 13 massacre. 

The self-proclaimed "terrorist tourist" Abaaoud, the son of a Moroccan shopkeeper, grew up a working-class district of Brussels before he joined the ranks of the Islamic State. His father Omar told La Derniere Heure newspaper how he couldn’t understand how or why his son had turned to radical Islam.  Another Paris terrorist, who died after he activated his suicide belt, was Samy Amimour, a French citizen whose father was interviewed a year ago by newspaper Le Monde about his failure to tear his son away from the Islamic State.

Those tales mirror that of the protagonist of another film, which was released as planned on Nov. 22. In Les Cowboys, a father travels the world to try and find his daughter, who has run away to join jihadist fighters after converting to Islam.

“These are very ordinary people who find themselves caught up in the world’s chaos," Thomas Bidegain, the film’s director, told the Huffington Post.

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