Gaumont has acquired French distribution and international sales rights to Melanie Laurent’s period mystery thriller “The Mad Women’s Ball” which is being produced by Alain Goldman’s Legende Films.

Based on the award-wining novel by Victoria Mas “Le Bal des folles,” “The Mad Women’s Ball” will be headlined by up-and-coming French actress Lou de Laâge (pictured) and Laurent, the popular actress of “Inglorious Basterds,” “Enemy,” and most recently “6 Underground” and “Operation Finale.”

The pair last worked on Laurent’s critically acclaimed feature debut “Breathe” which world premiered at Cannes’ Critics Week in 2014. Now a well-established helmer, Laurent is getting reading to shoot the WW2 drama “The Nightingale” with Elle and Dakota Fanning.

The story of “The Mad Women’s Ball” takes place at the end of the 19th century in Paris, at a time when women deemed too rebellious or difficult were frequently labeled as insane and institutionalized. The action unfolds at the Salpêtrière hospital where these women diagnosed with different kinds of nervous system disorders were confined and put under the supervision of neurologists such as Jean-Martin Charcot. Each year, a prestigious ball was organized with the patients and attracted the Parisian elite; it was a place to see and be seen.

Set against major historical events and bolstered by strong female protagonists, the film will follow a woman who was unfairly institutionalized at the Salpêtrière hospital and manages to escape.

Axelle Boucaï will be producing the film with Goldman at Legende Films. The company’s credits include Marion Cotillard starrer “La Môme,” “The Round Up” and “An Officer and a Spy.” “The Mad Women’s Ball” is expected to start shooting later this year.