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Dubai-based sales agent Cercamon has acquired world sales rights excluding Switzerland for Laura Kaehr’s first feature documentary “Becoming Giulia,” which has its world premiere Sept. 23 in the Focus competition at the Zurich Film Festival.

Produced by Point Prod, the outfit behind Elie Grappe’s Cannes Critics’ Week prize winner “Olga,” in partnership with SRG SSR, the film is an intimate and committed look at the journey of a woman who reclaims her body and herself to return to the stage.

Shot over three years, “Becoming Giulia” opens with prima ballerina Giulia Tonelli returning to the main stage at the Zurich Opera House after an 11-month absence due to her first pregnancy. The film offers a sensitive portrait of an artist at the top of her craft, moving from rehearsals to opening nights to everyday life in the home, even as Tonelli juggles the competing demands of work and family. Along the way, the viewer also meets her family and collaborators, including upcoming Zurich Opera director and celebrated choreographer Cathy Marston.

“Becoming Giulia” is the first feature documentary from Kaehr, a former ballerina and multihyphenate artist, who has previously directed commercials as well as the short doc “1927,” which premiered at Locarno, and “New World,” which played at multiple festivals. Both films explored relationships between dance and cinema. The Swiss release of “Becoming Giulia” will be handled by First Hand Films.

“Giulia is such an amazing character and a brilliant dancer. Laura has been able to convey her personal dilemmas, struggling to reconcile and balance professional and personal life — a struggle all too familiar to many women around the world,” said Cercamon Docs head Suzanne Nodale. “Beautifully lensed with many amazing performances recorded at the Opera, the doc will attract dance lovers all around the world, as well as distributors looking for strong character-driven docs with a feminine perspective.”

Vanessa Droz from Point Prod added: “‘Becoming Giulia’ is a film that fits in with its time. A feminist approach, but far from a simple manifesto, it’s a natural testimony of life. Giulia was away from the main stage for almost a year. However, she was still performing four months into her pregnancy, kept practicing until two weeks before giving birth and went back to training only 10 weeks after.” 

The filmmakers, said Droz, “wanted to give her the recognition she deserves for her work,” adding: “We are very pleased to start our partnership with Cercamon, which will certainly promise a great journey for the film abroad as its theme, context and style are universal, and we expect it to appeal to a wide audience.”