Mercenaire / Mercenary
Director: Sacha Wolff / France / 2016 / Colour / 103 mins / French
Synopsis: Soane is a Polynesian rugby player who barely escapes a violently abusive father in his native New Caledonia, in the South Pacific, only to almost get himself killed trying to turn a professional. Believing a deceitful recruiter, he travels to France to join a Paris team. Soane’s prospective employers but take one look at him before deeming him too small. Instead of flying straight back home, he takes a contract with a dreary provincial team. Despite speaking the language, Soane is a total fish out of water here, as his past comes back to haunt him just as he’s making some headway. Mercenaire is a simple, emotional and brutal journey, very skilfully told by the director against a backdrop portraying the path to adulthood, cultural divides, neo-colonialism in sport, and the corrosive powers of money on spiritual values.
Wolff’s film shines in its portrayal of a young man striving to find a place for himself in a world that just wants to use him up and spit him out. Non-professional actor Toki Pilioko provides a riveting and charismatically stoic presence as the young Soane.
Direction & Screenplay Sacha Wolff
Production Claire Bodechon, Jean Brehat
Cinematography Samuel Lahu
Editing Laurence Manheimer
Music Luc Meilland
Cast Toki Pilioko Cast Toki Pilioko, Iliana Zabeth, Laurent Pakihivatau, Mikaele Tuugahala, Petelo Sealeu, Maoni Talalua Teotola Maka, Bessarion Udesiani , Omar Hasan, Mathias Dufaud , Dominique Pozzer
Awards / Festivals
- Cannes FF, La Rochelle IFF, Festival du Film d’Angouleme
- BFI London FF, Edinburgh IFF, Stockholm FF, Directorial Debut
- FIPRESCI Prize, Sundance FF, Karlovy Vary IFF, Zurich FF
- San Sebastian IFF
About the director– Sacha Wolff (Born 1981 in Strasbourg, France) is a writer and director known for his short films ‘Does It Make a Sound’ (2006) and ‘Retour’ (2007). Graduated from film school in Nantes, Wolff has also studied directing in La Fémis Academy. His first feature MERCENARY was featured at the 2016 Director’s Fortnight in Cannes. Taking on the feel of a western, the film is an unusual thriller that could be described as a “rags-to- riches… and-back-to-rags” story.