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Italy’s ‘The Champion’ Picked Up for France Ahead of De Rome a Paris (EXCLUSIVE)

French distributor Destiny Films has acquired rights for France to Italian soccer dramedy “The Champion” from Italy’s True Colours in the runup to the De Rome a Paris festival and confab, which kicks off Friday.

Produced by Matteo Rovere’s Groenlandia (“Romulus”), “The Champion” turns on the uneasy relationship between a young male soccer star and a shy academic, also male, who becomes his tutor. This rare representation of the soccer world’s money-crazed star system recently won several Silver Ribbon prizes from Italy’s film journalists’ union, including best producer and best feature debut for director Leonardo D’Agostini.

Destiny Film’s David Chhouy said he hopes “The Champion” will resonate in France, where the plan is for a summer 2020 release in local multiplexes. “We need French audiences to perceive it not as an Italian arthouse movie, but something more mainstream,” he noted.

That said, two Italian arthouse titles, Marco Bellocchio’s Mafia drama “The Traitor” and Pietro Marcello’s “Martin Eden,” have both performed well recently at the French box office on the strength of their respective Cannes and Venice launches.

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De Rome a Paris, which highlights collaboration between the two countries’ film industries, will kick off Friday in the French capital’s Cinema L’Arlequin with Mimmo Calopresti’s period drama “Aspromonte: Land of the Forgotten” starring Marcello Fonte (“Dogman”) and Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, who is expected to attend. Other fresh Italian fare that will be screened for French filmgoers and distributors include Venice standout “Mafia Is Not What It Used to Be,” Rome-set interracial romance “Bangla,” and “Dafne,” the dramedy about a woman with Down syndrome who helps her father cope with bereavement. “Dafne” launched from Berlin.

The event’s industry component, which runs Thursday and Friday, will feature a co-production platform where new projects from internationally known Italian helmers such as Andrea Pallaoro (“Hannah”), Laura Luchetti (“Twin Flower”) and Stefano Mordini (“Pericle”) will be pitched to French producers.

Panels will include a presentation of the new Italy-France co-production fund and discussion of a study comparing theatrical release window regulations and strategies in the two countries.

De Rome a Paris is supported by Italy’s culture and foreign trade ministries and organized by Italian motion picture association Anica in collaboration with state film entity Istituto Luce Cinecittà and national film exporters body Unefa.

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