PARIS– Reteaming with leading French production outfit Why Not, Wild Bunch has come on board to handle international sales on thesp-turned-helmer Roschdy Zem’s social dramedy “Bodybuilder” in the run-up to the UniFrance Rendez-vous mini-mart in Paris.
Penned by Zem and Julie Peyr (“Jimmy P.”), “Bodybuilder” tells the tale of a 20-year-old boy who reunites with his father, whom he’s never met, and discovers the world of professional bodybuilders.
Zem, whose best-known acting credits include Rachid Bouchareb’s “Days of Glory” and “Outside The Law,” earned critical acclaim with his debut, “Bad Faith,” a comedy turning on the complicated romance between a Jewish woman (Cecile de France) and a Muslim man (played by Zem himself), and sophomore outing “Omar Killed Me,” a drama chronicling the real-life story of Omar Raddad, a Moroccan immigrant who was unjustly convicted of a murder.
“Faith” earned a Cesar nomination for best first film, while “Omar” was nominated for two Cesar awards (script and thesp for Sami Bouajila), repped Morocco in the Oscar foreign-language race and was shortlisted in 2012.
“Bodybuilder” is part of Wild Bunch’s reduced slate of Gallic films. Co-founded by Vincent Maraval, the studio has become increasingly selective with French films’ pickups but sees crossover potential in the tightly-budgeted “Bodybuilder.”
“‘Bodybuilder’ treats a unique subject very rarely explored in cinema, bodybuilding, in a way that mixes ‘The Wrestler’ and Ken Loach comedies like ‘Looking for Eric’ or ‘Angel’s Share,’ said Maraval. “It has the human touch to become a commercial quality film.”
Pic toplines real-life bodybuilder Francois Yolin Gauvin, Nicolas Duvauchelle, Vincent Rottiers and Marina Fois; and is produced by Zem’s Hole in One Films shingle and Why Not.
At the UniFrance Rendez-vous, Wild Bunch will also be unveiling a promo of comicbook-based “Nicholas on Holiday,” which Maraval describes as “Tati-esque,” and Fabrice du Welz’ dark-edged actioner “Colt 45” about a 25-year old firearms instructor who gets embroiled with a corrupt cop who drags him into a spiral of crimes.
“Nicholas” is the sequel of “Little Nicholas,” which turned out to be 2009’s highest-grossing French film, earning $48.2 million in Gaul.
The UniFrance Rendez-vous with French cinema in Paris kicks off Friday, running through Jan. 20.