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Berlin: Cohen Media Group Acquires Lea Seydoux Starrer ‘Diary of a Chambermaid’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Cohen Media Group has acquired North American rights to the Berlinale selection’s biggest French movie, “Diary of a Chambermaid,” starring Lea Seydoux (“Blue Is the Warmest Color”).

Sold by Elle Driver, “Diary” is directed by Benoit Jacquot (Farewell, My Queen”). Deal was negotiated by CMG senior VP John Kochman and Elle Driver co-founder Adeline Fontan Tessaur. Pic is set for a late 2015 U.S. theatrical release.

Set in the French provinces in the early part of the last century, “Diary” stars Seydoux as Celestine, an ambitious new chambermaid at the Lanlaire household who rebuffs her master’s advances, endures the authoritarian Madame Lanlaire, and falls for an enigmatic gardener, Joseph (Vincent Lindon, “Bastards,” “The School of Flesh”).

“As the U.S. distributors of ‘Farewell My Queen’ and ‘3 Hearts,’ Cohen Media Group continues to enjoy our strong relationship with Benoit Jacquot. We are thrilled to present his unique vision of this classic story to a whole new generation,” said CMG chairman-CEO Charles S. Cohen.

Kochman added: “It’s been 50 years since Luis Bunuel’s ‘Diary of a Chambermaid,’ and Benoit Jacquot’s faithful retelling of the original novel is certain to create a sensation.”

Berlin audiences’ big question will indeed be what Jacquot will bring to a classic adapted by Jean Renoir and Bunuel, the latter with Jeanne Moreau in a 1964 redo transposed to an increasingly fascist 1930s’ France.

Published in 1900 by Octave Mirbeau, an anarchist, the original novel lambasted the vileness of France’s rich. Jacquot told Variety his “Diary,” while commenting on racism and anti-Semitism, emphasized the novel’s feminist aspect, with Celestine struggling to escape slavery.

Deal continues a strong relationship between Elle Driver, which sold Jacquot’s “Queen” and “3 Hearts,” and CMG. The distributor’s recent buys include Abderrahmane Sissako’s Oscar-nommed “Timbuktu,” produced by France’s Sylvie Pialat.

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