‘Of Money And Blood’: Xavier Giannoli Takes Director-Driven Approach To Debut TV Project That Launched At Venice

Welcome to Global Breakouts, Deadline’s strand in which, each fortnight, we shine a spotlight on the TV shows and films killing it in their local territories. The industry is as globalized as it’s ever been, but breakout hits are appearing in pockets of the world all the time and it can be hard to keep track. So we’re going to do the hard work for you.

This week we head to the Venice Film Festival to check out French director Xavier Giannoli’s international crime thriller Of Money and Blood, which world premiered in its official selection on August 31 to a buzzy reception.

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Name: Of Money and Blood
Country: France
Network: Canal+
Distributor: Studiocanal
Where can I watch: Canal+ in France from October
For fans of: Michael Mann’s The Insider, Martin Scorsese’s Wall Street, Oliver Stone’s JFK, Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic

French writer-director Xavier Giannoli’s 12-part crime thriller Of Money and Blood is liberally adapted from investigative journalist Fabrice Arfi’s 2018 eponymous book, which explored a notorious multibillion carbon tax fraud that generated headlines in 2009.

The series world-premiered to favorable first reviews in the opening week of the Venice Film Festival, as one of two TV shows playing Out Of Competition alongside Bosnian’s I Know Your Soul.

The French-language show launches on Canal+ in France in October, with the pay-TV giant also holding rights to Poland, Africa and Asia (Myanmar & Vietnam). While it is yet to launch on Canal+, the show generated plenty of buzz when it screened at Venice last week.

Coinciding with the Venice premiere, in the presence of the director and cast, Studiocanal has launched sales in all remaining worldwide territories with priority targets being Europe as well as the U.S. and Canada.

Of Money and Blood marks a first foray into writing and directing TV for Giannoli, who has spent his entire career working in cinema with credits including Marguerite (2015), The Apparition (2018) and Lost Illusions (2021).

His cinema roots are evident throughout the production.

Vincent Lindon, who previously starred in Giannoli’s The Apparition, leads the cast in the role of a customs inspector with an obsessional streak, who is on a mission to track down and nail the unlikely masterminds behind the scam.

The investigation takes him around the globe, connecting him with a gallery of different worlds and characters along the way.

Popular French cinema star and comedian Ramzy Bedia plays a small-time crook who joins forces with a high-finance trader (Niels Schneider), to pull off what some dubbed the ‘fraud of the century’. Other cast members include Olga Kurylenko, Judith Chemla and Yvan Attal.

Giannoli says he was drawn to the real-life crime tale told in Arfi’s book by the range of different characters and social circles it involved, as well as the way it touched on bigger questions such as human greed and the climate emergency.

The director, who has written all his feature scripts, decided the story was too complex to shoehorn into a 90-minute feature.

“There were so many characters. The story goes from one country to another, one character to another, from one social circle to another. At the same time, it gets into the issue of money laundering,” he says.

The production also marks a first drama series for Giannoli’s long-time producer Olivier Delbosc.

Working under the banner of his Paris-based production company Curiosa Films, Delbosc’s credits include François Ozon’s early works such as 8 Women and Swimming Pool, Gaspar Noé’s Into The Void and family films such as Laurent Tirard’s Nicolas On Holiday.

“I’ve produced 103, or 104, features over the last 30 years and always focused on auteur films,” he says. “Xavier wanted to try out a longer format, because it would allow him to explore the psychology of the characters across several episodes, and suggested we work together on our first series, which is also a first series for Vincent Lindon.”

“I’m going to continue making series but with a focus on director-driven series. I think the Americans have understood this and the platforms are more and more interested by that. I want to make series with cinema directors and actors as well as crews coming from that world, with the same standards as when I produce a feature.”

He notes that many crew members on Of Money and Blood – including production designer Etienne Rohde, costume designer Pierre-Jean Larroque and casting director Michael Laguens – worked on Giannoli’s large-scale period adaptation of Honoré de Balzac’s classic novel Lost Illusions.

One challenge of the production, he notes, was the fact that Giannoli insisted on directing all 12 episodes, rather than bringing in other directors to lighten the load.

Delbosc partnered with French pay-TV giant Canal+ on the production, working closely with its fiction department to develop and bring the series to fruition.

“We didn’t sound out other potential partners. I’m a child of Canal+, if you like. All my films were backed by Canal+ Cinema, as were Xavier’s, and it seemed coherent and loyal to approach its Creation Originale team first,” he says.

Canal+ financed 50% of the development costs, hiring co-writer Jean-Baptiste Delafon (Baron NoirPromises) and buying the rights to Arfi’s book.

Development was under the watch of former Canal+ head of fiction Fabrice de la Patellière and his team, with production overseen by his successor Olivier Bibas, who arrived in January 2022.

“The process was very different from when I make a feature. Usually, I develop the screenplay on my own with the director and then look for finance. Here, we developed it together with Canal+, but the team intervened in a way that was both intelligent and pertinent.” Budgeted at €30M ($28M), the show shot on and off over the course of one year from early 2022.

The Canal+ Creation Originale team in France has long developed and produced dramas involving directors better known for cinema – such as Baron Noir with Ziad Doueiri, Savages with Rebecca Zlotowski and Hippocrate with Thomas Liltl.

However, Delbosc suggests Of Money and Blood breaks the mold in terms of its international scope and ambition.

“That was our aim from the beginning, we wanted to appeal to the whole world, both in the spectacular way its shot and in terms of the countries that we visit,” he adds.

“The financial scam involves several countries and governments,” he says. “I don’t think in the history of French series, there are other series that have done what we’ve done.”

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