Israeli-French director Michale Boganim, whose sophomore outing “Land of Oblivion” played at Venice and Toronto, will make her English-language debut with “Lost in America” (working title), a coming-of-age drama set in Brooklyn’s Borough Park and Manhattan.
London-based WestEnd, whose slate includes Jeremy Saulnier’s TIFF Midnight Madness player “Green Room,” has taken international sales on “Lost in America.”
Written by Boganim, “Lost in America” charts the journey of 22-year-old Rebecca, 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 Manatthan, Rebecca meets other Jews living on the margins of the Hassidic community and Anya, an emancipated Russian immigrant and aspiring painter who introduces her to another world.
“On top of exploring the Hassidic community of Borough Park, the film is about a young woman propelled on a journey towards self-discovery and struggling to define her religious and social identity,” explained Boganim, who added that she started learning about the Borough Park community while working on a documentary for Franco-German network Arte.
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 elaborate the script. “These folks were born in the U.S. and have become foreigners in their own country.”
“Lost in America,” which was pitched at Toronto’s co-production market, is produced by David Mandil’s Movie Plus (“A Tale of Love and Darkness”) from Israel, MP Prods. from France and Riva Filmproduktion (“Gett, The Trial of Viviane Amsalem “) from Germany. Gaul’s pay TV channel Canal Plus has pre-bought the film.
The producers are now looking for an American partner to come on board, and will be casting for the roles of Rebecca and Anya. The rest of the cast will include real-life members of the Cholent.
Boganim’s directorial debut “Odessa… Odessa!” world premiered at Sundance.