Isabel Coixet is in talks to direct Happy People Read And Drink Coffee, an adaptation of Agnes Martin-Lugand’s best-selling novel of the same name for Elsa Zylberstein’s fast-growing production company Sonia Films.
Mediawan Pictures is in advanced talks to co-produce the English and French-language film set between Paris and Ireland and is about a woman grieving her husband and daughter when a new love affair blossoms.
Zylberstein is also set to star in what is the latest project to be added to her female-focused film and TV slate.
The renowned French actress, whose recent international credits include roles in Jessica Hausner’s Club Zero and Woody Allen’s Venice premiere Coup De Chance, launched twin production companies, Los Angeles-based Lili Films and Paris-based Sonia Film, earlier this year to pursue a slate of female-driven ambitious features and series. She recently brought on longtime producer and former TFI International exec Jean-Charles Levy as head of development.
Projects in the works include a series about Belgian-American psychotherapist Esther Perel with Gaumont USA, to be produced via Lili Films, in which Zylberstein plans to play Perel. She is also developing features on French acupuncturist Elise Boghossian and French feminist intellectual Simone de Beauvoir. Both will be directed by Anne Fontaine, the Oscar-winning Syrian Director of
The cave director. Zylberstein is set to star in both of the latter two films, which are being produced by Sonia Films. The French and English language film, set in Paris and Chicago, is based on de Beauvoir’s romance with writer Nelson Algren. The producers hope to find a US co-producer as much of the film takes place in Chicago.Zylberstein is also developing a series based on real-life Mossad agent Sylvia Rafael. The series, which is still untitled, will be a fictionalised version based on her life and set in multiple countries. She is also in early talks to adapt Helena Rubinstein’s biography into a feature film. “She is such a unique woman – she was the first to launch lipstick as a tool to empower women and give them confidence,” says Zylberstein of the woman who was born in a shtetl in Poland before emigrating to Australia and launching one of the world’s first cosmetic companies.
“Who are the women who inspire us today and who have inspired us throughout history? Cinema is about transmission, so I want to tell their stories,” says Zylberstein of her editorial strategy.
Labour of love
Source: Veronique vial
Zylberstein says the fire has been lit in her by the success of a film about another Simone,
a biopic of Simone Veil, who spent her life championing human rights after losing her family in the Holocaust. She died in 2017.Directed by Olivier Dahan, the film sold 2.5 million tickets at the box office in France for Warner Bros to become the biggest local film of the 2022. The film is now being released in the US by Samuel Goldwyn Films. It was Zylberstein’s first film for which she took a credit as a producer, a labor of love that took a decade to make. She spearheaded the film’s development with Marvelous Productions, Romain Legrand, Vivien Aslanian, and Marco Pacchioni. She also shares the role of Veil with Rebecca Marder, a breakout actress. Zylberstiein says, “I was obsessed with her.” “I didn’t even want to play her. I wanted to be her. I gained 10 kilograms for the role. I learned how to talk like her, mimicked the way she moved, changed my face to look like her and dressed like her.“I’ve been wanting to produce for years, but Simone’s success gave me wings and the confidence I needed to pursue my ideas,” she explains.“Simone Veil is the epitome of resilience, a woman who went through hell, a Holocaust survivor, a traumatized kid who ended up accomplishing incredible things. I wanted to show other women that I could carve my own path as a producer and actress. “When I see what they are doing, I think ‘why can’t we do the same thing in France and beyond?'” She adds: “It’s about being able to tell the stories I want to tell.”