Jappeloup: The French film that Began Its International Tour in Cuba

The international premiere of Jappeloup, the biggest non-English speaking box-office hit in history, at the French Film Festival was a privilege for Cuban movie buffs.

Mildrey Ponce

A few days ago, it was common to see a large crowd in the main movie theaters of Havana.

They gathered for one event: the French Film Festival. During the sixteenth edition, films like The Untouchables (2011), previously considered the biggest non-English speaking box-office hit in history; Where Do We Go Now? (2011), winner of the People’s Choice Award at the San Sebastian, Oslo and Toronto Film Festivals; Heartbreaker (2010), the biggest French blockbuster in 2010; and Case Départ (2011), a comedy shot in Cuba, were among the most popular films for Cuban film buffs.

This year, the new meeting not only received the most representative and recent works of French film productions, but after they toured several international competitions.

The Festival – the most important French film showcase abroad - was chosen for the international premiere of the film Jappeloup, a real privilege for lovers of the seventh art (film) in Cuba.

This film, recently premiered on March 13th in Paris, immediately became a box-office success, selling 800,000 tickets in only one week.

Director Christian Duguay centers the plot on equitation. The film charts the story of Pierre Durand who, at the beginning of the 1980s, abandoned a promising legal career to devote himself to showjumping. With his father’s help, he put his full efforts into a young horse in whom nobody truly believed: Jappeloup.

Jappeloup, based on a true story, is very touching because of the relationship that becomes established between Durand and the horse. Despite being very small, temperamental and unpredictable, the latter possesses outstanding dispositions, such as a remarkable jumping ability. The pair progresses from one competition to another and beats everyone in the world of equitation.

They have to leap over many obstacles. For example, Durand’s fall in the Los Angeles Olympic Games makes the main character reconsider his relationship with Jappeloup. Later on, they win the gold medal in individual jumping at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul.

The producer of the film, Pascal Judelewicz, and the first assistant director, Stéphane Gluk, traveled to Havana for the screening of the film in Cuba. Judelewicz pointed out that the film is a unique experience in French cinema since the adventure genre is generally linked to comedy. However, Jappeloup is more about emotion.

He also highlighted the complexity of the production for which they had to recreate the settings of two Olympic Games.

“During the shooting, there was a close connection between Guillaume Canet, the star, the director and me. The film tells the story of this horse, but it also has a lot in common with Canet’s life, who had experience in this sport,” underscored the producer.

For his part, Stéphane Gluk talked about the complexity of working with animals during the shooting; that is, the required training process and achieving the full cooperation of the horses at the moment of shooting.

The film was first shown in the Chaplin movie theater in the capital. During the screening, Judelewicz and Gluk said they were very impressed by the hundreds of people present in the movie theater, being the first time the film was shown outside France.

The French Film Festival, which recently ended in the capital, will continue its tour to the rest of the country’s provinces.


Translated by María Rosa Rodríguez Guerra

Revised by Susana Hurlich


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