EXCLUSIVE: Principal photography has started in Tunisia on contemporary drama Contra, set in the aftermath of the powerful anti-government protests that provoked a wave of change in the region, known as the Arab spring.
The film (previously known as Before Spring) is being directed by Egyptian-British filmmaker Lotfy Nathan and will star French Tunisian actor Adam Bessa, known for his performances in recent action movies Mosul and Extraction.
A modern day parable about resistance, the film centers on the story of Ali, a young Tunisian who dreams of a better life, making a precarious living selling contraband gas at the local black market. When his father suddenly dies, he’s forced to take charge of his two younger sisters and their impending eviction. The movie will feature a combination of local actors and non-professionals.
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Nathan’s narrative debut, shot on 35mm film, is being produced by Julie Viez (Long Day’s Journey Into Night) of Cinenovo and a host of leading production partners from across Europe and the U.S., including co-producers Nicole Romano and Tariq Merhab at Anonymous Content (Stillwater), Maurice Fadida (John Henry) at Summertime, Donato Rotunno’s Tarantula (Fire Will Come), Detailfilm’s Fabian Gasmia (Annette), Habib Attia’s Cinetelefilms (The Man Who Sold His Skin), and Benoit Roland’s Wrong Men (Zero Fucks Given), in association with Mac Pac Entertainment and Film Constellation.
Film Constellation is handling worldwide sales and discussing the project with buyers this week during the Cannes Marché. The company is co-representing North America with CAA Media Finance. Fabien Westerhoff is executive producer alongside, Alex Hughes, Jan McAdoo, Riccardo Maddalosso and Eugene Kotlyarenko.
Director Lofty Nathan was selected as an HBO Emerging Artist Award. His debut documentary 12 O’Clock Boys has been in development at Sony Pictures as a feature drama initially adapted by Barry Jenkins.
Film Constellation’s Cannes Market slate includes Cannes Label selection John and the Hole by Pascual Sisto; first footage screening of Scandinavian horror The Twin, starring Teresa Palmer, currently in post-production; and Martian sci-fi Settlers, directed by Wyatt Rockefeller, starring Sofia Boutella.