×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Gaumont Unwraps Omar Sy’s ‘Chocolat’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Gaumont has come on board “Chocolat,” a drama set in the 19th century starring Omar Sy as Cuban artist Rafael Padilla.

Roschdy Zem, whose credits include “Omar Killed Me,” penned the script with Cyril Gely (“Diplomacy”) and will direct the €18 million ($22.5 million) movie. Eric and Nicolas Altmayer at Mandarin Cinema, the outfit behind Bertrand Bonello’s “Saint-Laurent” and Francois Ozon’s “Young and Beautiful,” are producing the film.

Born in Cuba in 1860, Padilla — nicknamed Chocolat — was the first black artist to have performed on stage in France and to have appeared in advertising. Chocolat formed a duo with whiteface clown Footit (James Thieree). Clothilde Hesme completes the cast.

Chocolat reportedly inspired French painter Toulouse Lautrec and appeared in the first films by the Lumiere brothers.

Eric Altmayer said the film wouldn’t be a biopic but rather a melodrama or a fable inspired by Gerard Noiriel’s book “Clown Negre.” At the peak of his career, Padilla was immensely popular but later in his career, the public forgot about him.

“Padilla achieved famed and prosperity by conforming himself to the image of slave and fell out of grace when he tried to escape it,” explained Altmayer.

Popular on Variety

Cecile Gaget, Gaumont’s international sales boss, predicts Sy will deliver a career-changing performance with this role. “In ‘Intouchables,’ Omar made people laugh, in ‘Samba’ he made them cry and in ‘Chocolat’ he’ll do both,” said Gaget.

Gaumont is co-producing, and is set to distribute in France as well as handle international sales.

Lensing will start in January.

More Film

  • KARMELE

    Asier Altuna Preps Basque Historical Drama ‘Karmele the Hour of Waking Together’

    Basque cinema is booming, and director Asier Altuna is part of the vanguard leading it forward. The Spanish filmmaker, behind 2005 Youth Award winner “Aupa Etxebeste!” and 2015 Best Basque Film “Amama” at the San Sebastián Intl. Film Festival, attended this year’s Ventana Sur Proyecta sidebar with his next project, “Karmele, the Hour of Waking [...]

  • The Day is Long and Dark

    Francisco Barreiro Cast in Upcoming Julio Hernández Cordón Project (EXCLUSIVE)

    Julio Hernández Cordón, one of Mexico’s most-awarded independent filmmakers over the last decade, has found the leading man for his next feature “The Day is Long and Dark (My Friends are Vampires),” in Fantastic Fest best actor winner Francisco Barreiro, star of Adrián García Bogliano’s “Here Comes the Devil.”. Barreiro’s casting was shared with Variety from Buenos [...]

  • Macabre

    Rio Fest’s Compact Edition Opens Amidst Sectorial Crisis

    RIO DE JANEIRO  — The 21st Rio Intl. Film Fest opens Monday Dec. 9t with the screening of Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women” in the Odeon landmark theater. The smaller than usual edition, which was almost cancelled due to the lack of municipal backing, reflects the crisis of Brazil’s film sector, involved in a battle with the administration [...]

  • Papa-YouTuber

    Peru’s ‘Papa YouTuber’ Goes Global (EXCLUSIVE)

    Argentine sales agency FilmSharks Int’l label The Remake Company has sold remake rights at Ventana Sur to Peruvian family comedy hit “Papa YouTuber” (“YouTuber Dad”) to Mexico’s Cinepolis and Italy’s Colorado Films, with several other territories pending. Advanced discussions are underway in Germany, with Spain, France and the U.S. also pending. “The U.S. deal will [...]

  • Elia Suleiman attends the screening of

    'Pleasure Is Extremely Political,' Palestinian Filmmaker Elia Suleiman Says

    In a freewheeling masterclass held at the Marrakech Film Festival on Thursday, director Elia Suleiman offered as concise a mission statement as can be, defining his guiding beliefs in four short words. “Pleasure is extremely political,” said the Palestinian director, whose films have approached the fraught nature of life in the occupied territories with a [...]

  • Panel-Ventana-Sur-2019-1

    Ventana Sur: Industry Luminaries Converge, Talk Women In Cinema

    BUENOS AIRES – Ventana Sur’s Opening Windows conference series welcomed an esteemed line-up of women in film to Buenos Aires’ UCA campus on Wednesday afternoon for a panel that sought to familiarize the audience with the enormous weight of breaking into a male-dominated industry throughout the years. Among the panelists was Argentine Producer Lita Stantic, [...]

  • ALMAMULA

    Eurimages Winning Project ‘Almamula’ Stands Out at Ventana Sur’s Proyecta

    Juan Sebastian Torales arrived at this year’s Ventana Sur Proyecta showcase for Latin American projects as one of the event’s most buzzed up debutants with his upcoming semi-autobiographical feature “Almamula.” In September, Torales and producer Pilar Peredo, from France’s Tu Vas Voir, pitched the project at San Sebastian’s Co-production Forum, where it won the Eurimages [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content