French director Alain Corneau dies at 67

Toronto Film Fest to screen last film, 'Love Crimes,' Sept. 11

PARIS -- French director Alain Corneau died of cancer Sunday night at age 67, Corneau's agent confirmed on Monday. The announcement comes just before Corneau's latest film "Love Crimes," starring Kristin Scott Thomas and Ludivine Sagnier, is set to premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and was released in French theaters on August 18.

The director is best known for his work in the crime thriller genre, including the 1976 title "Police Python 357," starring Yves Montand, who also starred in the late director's 1977 film "La Menace" and his 1981 title "Choice of Arms," which have become classic French film noir works.

Corneau's first major success came in 1979 with "Serie Noire," selected for that year's Festival de Cannes and starring Patrick Dewaere, Marie Trintignant and Bertrand Blier. In 1992, Corneau won the coveted Cesar award for best film and best director for "Tous les Matins du Monde," which co-starred Gerard Depardieu and his late son Guillaume. Depardieu also starred in Corneau's big budget 1984 war film "Fort Saganne" that premiered at the Festival de Cannes that year.

Throughout his career, Corneau made both commercial fare, such as the 2000 title "The Prince of the Pacific," and more personal films, like 2003's "Fear and Trembling."

In 2007, the director saw his dream of more than 30 years realized when his "The Second Wind" finally hit the big screen starring Daniel Auteuil, Monica Bellucci, Jacques Dutronc and Michel Blanc.

The French film community expressed their sorrow over Corneau's passing on Monday, with actor Daniel Auteuil telling the press he was "still in shock," and fellow filmmaker Claude Lelouch said, "There's a Corneau tradition...a Corneau style. He's among those filmmakers who had a real style, a real personality and whose writing was easily recognized."

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy told national press that he too grieved "a great filmmaker struck down at his prime by illness."

Corneau's "Love Crimes" will premiere in Toronto on September 11 at the Winter Garden Theater, with a second public screening scheduled for September 19 at Bell Lightbox.

"Alain Corneau was a superb director who brought films to the Toronto festival on a number of occasions. He made a number of classic films over the years, was a true friend of ours and we mourn his passing," Director and CEO of the Toronto fest, Piers Handling, said in an interview. The festival will acknowledge Corneau's passing at the "Love Crimes" premiere, with tribute details currently being worked out.

Etan Vessing in Toronto contributed to this story.
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