French Cinema Titan Daniel Toscan du Plantier Dies Suddenly in Berlin
by Eugene Hernandez (in Berlin) and Brian Brooks
Industry attendees at the 2003 Berlinale on Tuesday were shocked by the death of Daniel Toscan du Plantier, a major figure in French cinema who served as Chairman of both Unifrance and the Cesar Academie des Arts et Techniques du Cinema and CEO of the French production company, TSR.
While many festival attendees had gathered to watch the Academy Award nominations on Tuesday afternoon, a commotion near festival headquarters at the Grand Hyatt in Potsdamer Platz revealed that Toscan du Plantier had suffered a heart attack outside the hotel, and was later pronounced dead after being rushed to an area hospital. Initial reports had indicated that du Plantier had a heart attack while in the Hyatt. A portion of the hotel was cleared as authorities dealt with the tragic situation.
Minutes later, at the nearby European Film Market, word spread quickly throughout the various booths as international colleagues shook their heads at the news and remembered du Plantier.
Born in Chambery, Savoy, France in 1941, Toscan du Plantier began his career in the press. He became publicity director at France Soir newspaper in 1969 and later appointed managing director at Regie Presse. He also worked with more than one hundred films by international directors including "Cousin, Cousine," by Jean-Charles Tachella (1975), "Don Giovanni" by Joseph Losey (1979), "The City of Women" by Federico Fellini (1980), "Fanny and Alexander" by Ingmar Bergman (1983), and "Van Gogh" by Maurice Pialat (1991).
In 1998, Toscan du Plantier was elected president of Unifrance, an organization which supports and promotes French cinema around the world. Since 1992, he has held the presidency of the Academie des Cesars du Cinema, France's equivalent of the Academy Awards, and he was also made a VP of the supervisory board at TV channel Sept-Arte in 1991 as well as president of the Cinematheque de Toulouse in 1996. He was also the CEO of French production company TSR.
More recently, Toscan du Plantier has produced Serge Le Peron's "The Marcorelle Affair," starring Jean-Pierre Leaud, and Benoit Jacquot's "Tosca," starring Angela Georghiu, Roberto Alagna, and Ruggero Raimondi. Daniel Toscan du Plantier has also written several books including "L'emotion culturelle," published in 1995.
Later Tuesday evening, the Berlinale announced it will hold a special screening of "Tosca" at the Paris Cinema in Berlin in Toscan du Plantier's honor. In a statement, Berlinale festival director Dieter Kosslick said, according to Screen's festival daily, "I still cannot believe that my friend Daniel Toscan du Plantier died today. He was a great producer and a great supporter of European cinema. Daniel was in Berlin to enlarge the friendship between the French and German film industries. He loved Berlin. This is a great loss to us all."