Utgoff, who played Alexei in the third season of Netflix’s “Stranger Things” and also appeared in “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit,” stars in the title role in “Wonder Zenia.” The film also stars Agata Kulesza, who played “Red Wanda” in Oscar-winner “Ida,” Maja Ostaszewska (“Body”), Weronika Rosati and Katarzyna Figura.
Zenia, the film’s protagonist, is an industrious Ukrainian migrant worker in Poland who makes house calls as a masseur to the needy and aspirational residents of a middle-class gated community near Warsaw. He is privy to all of their problems, anxieties and secrets – and something of an unwitting guru figure. Zenia’s grounded spirituality, apparent healing powers and broad shoulders make him an object of lust for many of the lost souls in the community.
In a statement, Utgoff said Szumowska’s “passion and persistence” were what attracted him most to the film, which he said would be “striking and original – a real eye opener for audiences.”
The producers said Szumowska would look “unblinkingly into the increasingly isolated and destructive, closed-off world of these communities, as the gulf between the haves and the have-nots deepens inexorably around Europe.”
The screenplay for “Wonder Zenia,” known as “The Masseur” in its development phase, was written by Szumowska and Michal Englert, her regular writing collaborator and cinematographer. Producers are Agnieszka Wasiak and Mariusz Włodarski for Lava Films, and Viola Fügen and Michael Weber for Match Factory Productions. The film will be sold internationally by The Match Factory. Kino Swiat will release the film in Poland.
Production design is by Jagna Janicka; casting by Magdalena Szwarcbart; sound by Marcin Jachyra; costume design Katarzyna Lewińska; and makeup by Waldemar Pokromski.
Szumowska’s directorial credits include “Elles” (2011), “In the Name Of…” (2013), “Body” (2015), “Mug” (2018), winner of the Jury Grand Prize at the Berlinale, and “The Other Lamb” (2019).
Utgoff is represented by Olivia Bell Management in London.