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Berlinale: Tessalit, Wild Bunch, Cohen Media Group Marceau’ Set For Docu Biopic (EXCLUSIVE)

Variety logo Variety 2/12/2017 Elsa Keslassy
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Paris-based production outfit Tessalit has joined forces with Wild Bunch and Cohen Media Group on Rachid Bouchareb’s documentary feature on the legendary French mime and actor Marcel Marceau.

Widely known as “Bip the Clown,” his chalk-faced stage persona, Marceau had a fascinating life. He performed around the world for over 60 years, was friends with Michael Jackson, even reportedly inspired Jackson’s famous moonwalk dance moves. Born into a Jewish family, Marceau escaped deportation during WWII but lost his father in Auschwitz and became a French Resistance hero.

Marceau gave his first show after the liberation of Paris in August 1944 and later won a flurry of honorary awards, including France’s National Order of Merit, an Emmy Award, and even a National Treasure nod in Japan. Marceau was highly celebrated in the U.S., and appeared on Broadway several times, and toured across the country as well many times. Marceau, who died in 2007, also appeared in movies.

Jean Brehat, Bouchareb, and Muriel Merlin are producing at Tessalit, which had “Chouf,” “Slack Bay,” and “Mercenaire” at Cannes last year. Wild Bunch and Cohen Media Group are co-producing. Wild Bunch reps international sales while Cohen Media Group holds U.S. distribution rights.

Bouchareb recently directed the historical documentary series “Freres d’armes,” about French war heroes from diverse ethnic backgrounds.

Tessalit is also teaming with Samuel and Victor Hadida’s Metropolitan Filmexport to produce Bouchareb’s next feature film, “Belleville Cop,” a buddy comedy starring Omar Sy and Luis Guzman. The culture-clash movie, which is set to start lensing on March 27, will topline Sy as a French cop from a multicultural Paris neighborhood who travels to Miami to solve a crime and must partner up with a local cop.

Metropolitan Filmexport is co-producing “Belleville Cop,” and holds international sales and distribution rights.

Bouchareb is best-known for his Oscar-nominated “Days of Glory” and “Outside of the Law,” which both competed at Cannes. His previous feature, “Two Men in Town,” starring Forest Whitaker and Harvey Keitel, competed at Berlin in 2014.

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