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‘Trepalium’ Producer Kelija Sets Its Sights on Period Thriller ‘Metro’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Variety logo Variety 4/12/2017 Elsa Keslassy
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Paris-based outfit Kelija, the Lagardere Studios-owned company behind the acclaimed dystopian drama series “Trepalium,” is re-teaming with writer Sebastien Mounier on “Metro,” its most ambitious series to date.

“Metro” is a thriller set against the backdrop of the construction of Paris’ first subway line, in 1899. The plot centers on the mysterious deaths of several laborers involved in the epic building project and on the investigation that follows.

“The story will be told through the eyes of three characters: an engineer, a suffragette and a drugged-up cop, who are each on a quest to achieve power and status through different means,” said Katia Raiss, Kelija’s founder who is producing the show.

Kelija made a splash with “Trepalium,” which takes place in a future where 80% of people are unemployed and rise up against the 20% who live luxurious, insulated lives. The series first aired on Franco-German network Arte and has been picked up by TV5 Monde and Netflix in France.

Raiss said “Metro” would be structured like a Western, similar to Sergio Leone’s “Once Upon a Time in America,” and have the strange atmosphere of a David Lynch movie.

She said “Metro” would depict the rich historical context of late 1890s France, which was marked by ambitious undertakings like the Eiffel Tower and the Metro, the emancipation of women and their battle to obtain the right to vote, the beginning of cinema, and colonial rivalry with other nations.

The series will also have a social and political dimension, exploring the condition of workers and the widespread protests of those who opposed the idea of building the Metro across Paris.

Raiss, who will be attending Series Mania, is looking for U.S. or British partners on the eight-part series, whose budget is around 25 million euros ($26.5 million).

Besides “Metro,” Kelija is also developing “Ad Vitam,” a dystopian series which will be directed by “Love at First Fight” helmer Thomas Cailley and Mounier. Arte commissioned the series, which will mark the second series of the anthology that kicked off with “Trepalium.”

“Ad Vitam” is set in a futuristic, imaginary seaside city, where almost everyone looks young in spite of the fact that the average age is 83. A regenerating science has been found, allowing people to gradually achieve immortality but causing real youth to feel alienated.

Raiss said a high-profile U.S. distributor has acquired “Trepalium” and remake rights to the series. Sold by Lagardere, “Trepalium” has been acquired in Poland (TVN), Australia (CBS), South Korea (EBS), Israel (Yes), Belgium (Proximus), Portugal (RTP), Germany (DVD Météor), and Vietnam.

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