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Vivo Film, the Rome-based shingle behind Laura Bispuri’s Berlinale competition entry “Daughter of Mine,” is producing Mauritania-set female empowerment drama “Flesh Out.” Films Boutique has picked up world sales rights for the title at the EFM.

Directed by Italy’s Michela Occhipinti, “Flesh Out” is centered on a tradition in Mauritania and sub-Saharan Africa that sees some women submitting to an obligation to eat excessively in order “to become more desirable, find a husband more easily and become more authoritative in their communities and families,” said Vivo Film’s Gregorio Paonessa, who runs the company with partner Marta Donzelli (pictured).

In order to gain weight, the film’s protagonist, who is engaged to be married, uses the method called gavage, which is used to force-feed geese in the production of foie gras. In her case this involves the introduction of a mixture of milk and cereals into her stomach through a tube.

Films Boutique, which is the Berlin-based unit of recently rebranded Paris-based sales company Playtime  — known as Films Distribution until last September — emerged with “Flesh Out” rights following a minor bidding war at the EFM.

“Flesh Out,” which has started shooting in Mauritania with non-professional local actors, is the second work by Occhipinti, whose debut, non-conventional doc “Letters From the Desert (Eulogy to Slowness),” won prizes and circulated widely on the festival circuit.

Vivo Film is producing “Flesh Out” with financing from Rai Cinema, and Italy’s Mibact state fund. They are also in talks for a French co-producer to come on board and are planning a crowdfunding campaign. Pic also recently won the European Women’s Audiovisual Network Award.