“What time is it, and how do we get out of here?” asked comedian Amy Poehler while she presented an award towards the end of…
French actor-turned-director Stéphane Freiss started shooting in Italy Monday on “Face à Toi,” a drama toplining emerging French star Lou de Laâge and Italy’s Riccardo Scamarcio (“Three Floors”), set against the backdrop of the Jewish harvest festival of Sukkot.
De Laâge plays the 25-year-old Esther who has always lived in a very close-knit Jewish Orthodox community in the south of France and is looking to break out of religious constrictions.
De Laâge, who won France’s Cesar Award for most promising young actress in 2013 for her role in Christian Duguay’s “Jappeloup,” more recently played the lead in Anne Fontaine’s 2016 “The Innocents,” which went to Sundance. She also starred in Fontaine’s “White as Snow,” in 2019, opposite Isabelle Huppert.
Scamarcio, who is among Italy’s top box office draws, plays the older Elio who left his father’s farm in Southern Italy to attend art school in Rome, but then returned home when his father died and has since carried on his family’s farming tradition, which includes cultivating citruses that attract a large number of rabbis every year who come to pick these fruits to send them to Jewish communities scattered throughout the world to celebrate Sukkot.
“They are both constricted by family heritage,” said Freiss, the Cesar-winning veteran actor whose recent credits include “Call My Agent!,” and who is now making his debut as a feature film director.
He added that “the passion sparked by their encounter prompts them both to extricate themselves from family ties.”
French documentary director and Kabbalah expert Pierre-Henry Salfati, at this acting debut, plays Esther’s father, who is a rabbi.
The “Face à Toi” cast also comprises Israel-based Iraqi actor Sasson Gabai (“The Band’s Visit”); French actor-singer Liv Del Estal; Coraly Zahonero (“La Vie Devant Elle”); and Anna Sigalevitch (“Opium”).
“Face à Toi,” which translates to “face yourself,” is a French-Italian co-production between France’s Babe Films and Italy’s Indiana Production, with Canal Plus and Sky Italia. Vision Distribution, which is the distribution unit formed by Sky Italia and five prominent Italian production companies is on board to handle theatrical distribution and international sales. The lead producer is Babe Film topper Fabio Conversi.
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