Stacy Martin, the star in Michel Hazanavicius’s “Redoubtable” which competes in Cannes on Sunday, is set to topline Michale Boganim’s English-language debut “Borough Park” which Pierre-Ange Le Pogam is producing.
Martin will star as Rebecca, a 22-year-old woman who is disowned by her father, an esteemed rabbi, and is forced to leave Borough Park’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish community where she has lived her whole life. Upon arriving in Manhattan, Rebecca meets other Jews living on the margins of the Hasidic community and Anya, an emancipated Russian immigrant and aspiring painter who introduces her to another world before getting deported out of the U.S.
Jewish American reggae vocalist Matisyahu is in discussions to perform a song and play a small part in the film.
“(Stacy) Martin has a sense of determination and a vulnerability that make her perfect for this role: she depicts her woman who as the strength to leave her family and start a new life which ultimately makes her vulnerable because she loses some of her identity,” said Boganim.
Le Pogam said he met Boganim at a pitching session organized by the Foundation Gan. Although the director was pitching another project there, the two started collaborating on “Borough Park.”
“I was immediately moved by the themes of ‘Borough Park,’ which is about a young woman who breaks free from her oppressive upbringing and discovers a social life that she had been deprived of ” said Le Pogam, who is producing via his Paris-based banner Stone Angels.
Le Pogam added that the film is also about a strained father-daughter relationship. It has a strong contemporary dimension since it also depicts the lives of illegal immigrants in the U.S., noted Le Pogam.
An Israeli-French director, Boganim previously directed “Land of Oblivion” which played at Venice and Toronto. The helmer previously explored the lives of Jews in Brooklyn in her directorial debut with “Odessa… Odessa!” which world premiered at Sundance and later played at Berlin.
Boganim, who grew up in a conservative Jewish household in Jerusalem, said she spent time with former Orthodox Jews at an underground shelter based in Manhattan’s lower East Side known as Cholent in order to inform the script. “These folks were born in the U.S. and have become foreigners in their own country.”
Le Pogam is having talks with several potential partners, sales agents and distributors at Cannes and will now start casting key roles. Real-life members of Cholent will be cast for secondary parts.
The film is in negotiations with partners in Belgium, Israel, Germany. “Borough Park” is expected to start shooting in mid-September in New York and partly in Europe.
Le Pogam is a well-established producer who co-founded EuropaCorp with Luc Besson and produced a number of French-language hits such as Pierre Morel’s “Taken” and Guillaume Canet’s “Little White Lies.” His current slate includes Michael Roskam’s “Racer and the Jailbird” with Matthias Schoenaerts and Adèle Exarchopoulos which Pathe will release in France on Nov. 1.
Martin previously toplined Lars von Trier’s “Nymphomaniac Volume 1” in which she starred opposite Shia LaBeouf.