New York-based distributor Greenwich Entertainment and Rialto Distribution have teamed up to picked up U.S. rights to Caroline Vignal’s “My Donkey, My Lover & I,” a heartwarming French romantic comedy headlined by “Call My Agent” breakout star Laure Calamy.
The company was co-created by Ed Arentz, co-founder and former managing director of Music Box Films, and Edmondo Schwartz, co-founder of Cohen Media Group, in September 2017 with the goal of handling high-end theatrical movies.
Sold by Playtime, “My Donkey, My Lover & I” was part of Cannes 2020’s official selection and went on to be nominated for eight César Awards, earning best actress for Calamy. The film was previously acquired by top distributors in key markets and played particularly well in English-speaking markets, including in the U.K. for Curzon and in Australia/New Zealand for Palace.
“‘My Donkey, My Lover & I’ has a sunny, light-hearted appeal in the COVID era of travel bans as audiences have enjoyed a vicarious Cévennes-trekking holiday,” said Arentz, adding that he film was also a “vehicle for Calamy’s emerging stardom in the English-speaking world as audiences had became aware of her via the international TV hit ‘Call My Agent.'”
Inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Travels With a Donkey in the Cévennes,” the film stars Calamy as the impetuous love-lorn school teacher Antoinette who is looking forward to a romantic summer escape with Vladimir, her married lover who is the father of one of her students. When Vladimir has to cancel because his wife has planned a surprise family holiday of their own, Antoinette impulsively decides to follow and misadventure ensues with the help of an understanding donkey named Patrick.
“For those who discovered her in ‘Call My Agent’ can attest, Laure Calamy is one of the most captivating actresses working today,” said Arentz. The executive said the company was “delighted to have the opportunity to showcase her César-winning performance in ‘My Donkey, My Lover & I,’ which also may be the perfect vicarious vacation romantic comedy for U.S. this summer.”
The film was a box office hit in France, as well as in multiple international territories, including English-speaking markets. Greenwich will open it at select U.S. cinemas in the top 50 markets beginning on July 22.
“My Donkey, My Lover & I” was produced by Laetitia Galitzine and Aurélie Rouvière. Rialto’s Kelly Rogers negotiated the acquisition with Nicolas Brigaud-Robert of Playtime on behalf of the filmmakers.
“We are proud that ‘My Donkey, My Lover & I’ is now getting a U.S. release and in the hands of greatly capable people. The film has had an amazing run for us around the world,” said Nicolas Brigaud-Robert, CEO and co-founder of Playtime. He pointed to the performance of the film in Australia and New Zealand, where it’s one of the top 10 foreign-language films of the decade and the most successful French movie since 2018. The film also particularly played well in Quebec and Germany.
With arthouse audiences slowly returning to theaters, a few foreign-language films have performed fairly well in recent weeks, including “Los Illusions” with Benjamin Voisin and Cecile de France, and “Official Competition” with Penelope Cruz and Antonio Banderas. Greenwich Entertainment’s last French movie was Quentin Dupieux’s “Deerskin” starring Jean Dujardin, but the 2020 film’s theatrical run was cut short due to the pandemic.
Here’s the U.S. trailer for “My Donkey, My Lover & I”: