Lyna Khoudri & Sidse Babett Knudsen Join Roschdy Zem In Afghanistan Drama ‘In The Hell Of Kabul: 13 Days, 13 Nights’ As Shooting Begins In Morocco

EXCLUSIVE: Pathé and Chapter 2 have announced the start of shoot in Morocco today for Martin Bourboulon’s Afghanistan evacuation drama In The Hell Of Kabul: 13 Days, 13 Nights and unveiled new cast additions.

Rising French actress Lyna Khoudri (French Dispatch) and Danish Bafta-winning Borgen star Sidse Babett Knudsen have joined the cast, which is led by Roschdy Zem (Chocolat, Oh Mercy!), and also features respected theatre actor Christophe Montenez of The Comédie Française.

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Set against the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan of U.S. troops in August, 2021 as the Taliban march on Kabul, the film recounts the true story of French Commander Mohamed Bida, who oversaw security at the French embassy, the last Western mission to remain open.

Trapped, Commander Bida decides to negotiate with the Taliban to organise a last-chance convoy with the help of Eva, a young French-Afghan translator. There is a race against time to lead the evacuees to the airport and escape the hell of Kabul before it’s too late.

The production has released a first image of Bourboulon and Zem on set.

This movie happens to be one of the most exciting challenges that has been offered to me. Firstly, there is this character based on a real-life person, whose fate intersects with history itself. Secondly, the context of fleeing your own country has left no one indifferent thus bringing us to a story within history, the one that we are interested in,” said Zem.

“It tells us how, in the heart of a recent drama, a few individuals only listened to their courage to save what many would consider dear, with the feeling that they were only doing what seemed right to them. Heroes, as many would call them, because they retain the most essential quality: humanity.”

The film marks a return to contemporary drama and a step change for Bourboulon after period dramas The Three Musketeers – Part II: Milady, The Three Musketeers – Part I: D’Artagnan and Eiffel.

13 Days 13 Nights is the breathtaking story of one of the most incredible exfiltration operations ever organized by France, as well as the story of men and women whose destinies have been shattered as they attempt to flee in order to survive… Roschdy Zem was an obvious choice for the role, having been associated with the project from the very beginning of the writing process,” said the director.

“I’m also delighted to be working with the talented Sidse Babbet Knundsen, and to be reunited with Lyna Khoudri. After The Three Musketeers, this new, exciting and more contemporary project allows me to continue exploring different genres from one film to the next.”

Khoudri who played the spirited but ill-fated lover of Artagnan opposite François Civil in Bourboulon’s The Three Musketeers films welcomed the chance to be back on set with the director.

The production will also reunite Bourboulon with many of his key crew on The Three Musketeer films, some of whom also collaborated with him on Eiffel.

“We are thrilled to start production of Martin’s new film and re-team with such a talented crew after The Three Musketeers and Monte Cristo,” said Chapter 2 CEO Dimitri Rassam.

Chapter 2 and Pathé have recently collaborated on The Three Musketeers films as well as The Count Of Monte Cristo which world premieres Out Of Competition in Cannes this week.

Rassam credits Pathé CEO Safaee Ardavan with introducing him to Commander Mohamed Bida’s compelling story: “Upon reading the book Ardavan gave me, I was moved by Mohamed Bida’s journey.”

“Beyond the exceptional account of events in Kabul and the heroic behavior to see through this incredible exfiltration, the extraordinary dignity of this true story compelled me to get involved. It is great to join forces again with Pathé on a project of such scale and ambition.”

Alexandre Smia (A French Case, The Bureau) co-wrote the screenplay with Bourboulon. M6 Films is a co- producer. International sales are handled by Pathé. Canal+ and Disney+ have acquired the French Pay 1 and Pay 2 windows respectively.

 “We were immediately captivated by the depth and the universal power of Mohamed Bida’s story. His life path and professional career, up to this climax of August 2021, are the essence of what makes great human narratives,” said Safaee.

“We immediately felt like Martin was the ideal director for this feature. We are pleased to partner up once again with Dimitri Rassam to co-produce this ambitious international movie thriller. It’s in Pathé’s DNA to bring these stories to the big screen, to offer spectators a unique cinema experience.”

Filming continues until August 2

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