Berlin-based sales outfit M-Appeal has acquired the world sales rights to erotic love story “99 Moons,” directed by Jan Gassmann, which will have its world premiere in Cannes’ ACID sidebar.

The film centers on Bigna, a 28-year-old scientist, and 33-year-old Frank. Bigna is used to having everything under control, even her erotic desires follow rules. Frank searches for meaning in a haze of drugs, feeding on other people’s affection. Their different worlds collide, and they become obsessively entwined in a passionate affair.

Upending outmoded gender roles, Bigna is autonomous, dominant and takes what she wants. She defines her interactions with other people, always on her terms. But with Frank, it is different: what starts as a cold encounter sparks the beginning of a passionate attraction and power games that send their lives in a different direction.

First-time actors Valentina Di Pace and Dominik Fellmann lead this “amour fou” story “with a strong and visceral chemistry,” M-Appeal stated Monday.

“99 Moons” is Gassmann’s third feature film, and he is “not new to making films with a free and uninhibited approach to romance and sex,” M-Appeal said. “While his documentary ‘Europe, She Loves’ (2016) followed four couples, ‘99 Moons’ translates these themes to fiction, this time exploring the mechanisms of love and power by focusing on one couple. With unflinching intimacy, the raw cinematography (Yunus Roy Imer, ‘Systemcrasher’) brings the audience close to the secrets and conflicts of extreme erotic magnetism; the glue that traps two people in an addictive power play of attraction and rejection.’ “

Gassmann said the film was about “the desperate struggle for rationality in love, the tragedy of not being able to let go of one another. We are hooked, like junkies on dope.”

Working with an intimacy coordinator for each sex scene, detailed choreographies and predefined limits in terms of touch and camera angles were worked out in advance, M-Appeal explained. Gassmann added that allowing more freedom and trust, this process taught him a lot about communication in relation to intimacy on screen.

M-appeal managing director Maren Kroymann said: “Sexuality on screen has always been one of our core interests at M-Appeal, and we are impressed by Jan Gossmann’s natural and free exploration of erotic attraction in ‘99 Moons.’ The film’s strong female lead portrays a dominance rarely represented, which is a refreshing addition for the erotic market.”

In his previous films, Gassmann has worked on the borderline between fiction and documentary. His 2007 documentary “Chrigu” was in competition at the Berlin Film Festival, and won the prize of the Ecumenical Jury. He has been back in Berlin twice, with “Off Beat” (2010) and “Europe, She Loves” (2016). His other movies, “Karma Shadub” (2013) and “Heimatland” (a 2015 omnibus film he initiated), won awards in the main competition sections at the Nyon and Max Ophüls festivals, respectively, and premiered at Locarno.

The producers are Reto Schaerli and Lukas Hobi. The production company is Zodiac Pictures, and the co-production companies are Swiss Radio and Television SRF. The film is supported by Bundesamt für Kultur (EDI), Zürcher Filmstiftung, Kulturfonds-Suissimage, Kanton Luzern and Media Desk Suisse.