by Justine Magaud Bonilla
La Bande à Fifi is a group of friends who came together as a troupe of comedians. Today, they are an integral part of the French comedy scene and their films are exported abroad. Made up of Philippe Lacheau, Tarek Boudali, Julien Arruti, Elodie Fontan, Reem Kherici and Pascal Boisson, the group has had much success. Passionate about their art, the actors constantly emphasize in their interviews the dream in which they have existed since the release of their first film –Paris à tous prix – in 2013. They had been longing to make movies from a young age, but none of them had any contacts in this milieu. They had a difficult time before the release of their first film. They could not get their projects financed and confess that they thought of giving up their dream, convinced that they would never be able to watch themselves on the cinema screen. The troupe had previously been successful on television, performing live sketches on Michel Denisot’s Grand Journal.
Philippe Lacheau, Tarek Boudali and Reem Kherici are not only actors and comedians, but they also direct the films in which the group appears. They are also the writers of the screenplay, a step in which Julien Arruti also helps. The friendship linking the members of the group is reflected on the screen. The actors appear together in each of their films. Together, they started from nothing, were motivated by a common ambition, and are now rewarded for their perseverance and talent.
It took a long time for producers to trust these young artists who had no experience in the film industry. However, the story they have been writing since 2013 proves that the passion and ambition of young talent can change the history of French cinema. Babysitting, directed by Philippe Lacheau and Nicolas Benamou, was 2014’s most profitable French film according to the BFM Business ranking, with 2.3 million viewers. Alibi.com, directed by Philippe Lacheau, was the highest-grossing French film of 2017 with 3.3 million viewers, just ahead of Épouse moi mon pote, directed by Tarek Boudali, another member of the gang, which had 2.4 million viewers on the big screen.
In 2019, the movie Nicky Larson et le parfum de Cupidon, directed by Philippe Lacheau and starring all the members of the Bande à Fifi, was released in French cinemas. The film is the adaptation of the famous manga City Hunter by Tsukasa Hōjō. The actors had discovered this manga as an animated series on Club Dorothée when they were children. By adapting this story to the cinema, they extended their childhood dream to film, which their career now allows them to do. Philippe Lacheau was strongly criticized on social networks at the time of the announcement of the French adaptation of this cult manga. Indeed, fans of City Hunter feared that he would misrepresent the original work. The script, that he wrote with his brother Pierre Lacheau, Julien Arruti and Pierre Dudan was read and approved by the Japanese creator of the manga before filming. The latter appreciated the story and consented to the film being directed by the crew. The film was positively received upon its release and has since been distributed in China and Japan where it was very successful at the box office. The group of friends that no one wanted to give a chance to made this movie with Pamela Anderson and is now being exported internationally.
La Bande à Fifi is currently starring in 30 jours Max, directed by Tarek Boudali and is participating in the show LOL -Qui rit sort, available on Amazon Prime Video, which is the most watched programme in France in 2021 on the platform. The comedians, who in less than ten years have shared the screen with the biggest names in French comedy, such as Christian Clavier, Gérard Jugnot and Didier Bourdon, and have filmed in Brazil, the United States and Morocco, are proof that we must always work to achieve our dreams. Not knowing anyone in the industry we want to work in is a disadvantage but does not have to quash all hope. This group of comedians shows that work, passion and friendship enable us to reach the top. We can only wish them the best for the next steps of their careers.
Justine MAGAUD BONILLA