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Berlin: Neon Buys ‘Racer and the Jailbird’ With Matthias Schoenaerts (EXCLUSIVE)

Neon has pre-bought North American rights to Michaël R. Roskam’s “Racer and the Jailbird” out of the Berlin Film Festival, Variety has learned.

The romantic thriller pairs director Roskam with actor Matthias Schoenaerts — the two have previously collaborated on the likes of “The Drop” and “Bullhead,” a foreign language Oscar nominee. It co-stars Adèle Exarchopoulos, who turned heads in “Blue Is the Warmest Color.”

“Racer and the Jailbird” follows a gangster (Schoenaerts) who meets and falls for a race car driver (Exarchopoulos). Their romance tests loyalties. The film is in French and set in Belgium. Neon is planning a theatrical release, but a premiere date has yet to be picked.

Neon is a new distribution company founded by Alamo Drafthouse’s Tim League and Tom Quinn, the former head of Radius-TWC. It was very active at this year’s Sundance, buying the comedy “Ingrid Goes West,” the drama “Roxanne Roxanne,” and the drama “Beach Rats.” All three won awards at the festival.

Stone Angels and Savage Film are producing and Pathé and Wild Bunch co-produce. Wild Bunch handles international sales and Pathé will distribute in France.

“Michaël and I are very excited to team up again with Tim League who had a big hand in the launch of our first film Bullhead in 2011,” said Bart Van Langendonck of Savage Film, who is producing the film with Pierre-Ange Le Pogam of Stone Angels.

“We know that Tom, Tim, and their team will be great partners; passionate, as Michaël, Bart, and myself have been working to create this movie with passion. This is exciting,” added Le Pogam.

Roskam wrote the screenplay to the film with Thomas Bidegain and Noé Debré. The movie reteams Roskam with his cinematographer Nicolas Karakatsanis (“Bullhead,””The Drop”), and editor Alain Dessauvage (“The Ardennes”). Stone Angels and Savage Film produced with Pathé and Wild Bunch co-producing. Wild Bunch is handling international sales and Pathé is distributing in France.

Wild Bunch negotiated the deal on behalf of the filmmakers.

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