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Dimitri Rassam, Helen Estabrook to Produce Benjamin Millepied’s Debut ‘Carmen’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Variety logo Variety 5/4/2017 Elsa Keslassy
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PARIS – Dancer and choreographer Benjamin Millepied (“Black Swan”) is set to make his directorial debut with “Carmen,” a contemporary musical drama inspired by French composer Georges Bizet’s opera.

Dimitri Rassam (“The Little Prince,””Playmobil”) is partnering up with Helen Estabrook (“Whiplash”) to produce the film.

Millepied is working with a top-notch creative team including Oscar-nominated Nicholas Britell (“Moonlight”), who will compose the original score of “Carmen” with Millepied, and Darius Khondji, the cinematographer of “The Lost City of Z” and “Midnight in Paris.”

Millepied will be creating the choreography for the film, which centers on a woman who travels from the deserts of Mexico to Los Angeles in search of freedom.

“I’m beyond grateful to be supported by the film community in my directing debut. The incorporation of music and dance in film is a cornerstone of my creativity and having such an experienced and talented team by my side gives me confidence that we will beautifully capture the story told in ‘Carmen,'” said Millepied, who started his career at the School of American Ballet and later at the City Ballet before moving to France to become director of dance at the Paris Opera Ballet.

Millepied served as choreographer on Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan,” in which he also performed along with Natalie Portman, whom he later married. Millepied was also recently the subject of “Reset,” a feature documentary which followed the creative process of his first ballet for the Paris Opera.

Britell, who has collaborated with Millepied on dance projects, said he was looking forward to working with him on a feature film for the first time. “For many years, Benjamin and I have spoken about integrating film, music, and dance on a grand scale. With ‘Carmen,’ we will truly have the opportunity to do so,” said Britell.

Rassam, one of France’s most ambitious producers, will co-finance the feature through his Paris-based banner Chapter 2.

“Benjamin’s vision of ‘Carmen’ is intense and compelling, as is illustrated by the exceptional quality of the creative team he has assembled to accompany him on his directorial debut,” said Rassam. “His ‘Carmen’ embraces the visceral strength of the original work of Bizet, one of the most successful operas still today, whilst offering a powerful, contemporary and original cinematographic journey.”

Aside from his film activities, Millepied is the artistic director and founder of L.A. Dance Project (with Charles Fabius), an initiative whose mission is to work with emerging and established artists on multi-disciplinary dance collaborations.

“Carmen” will begin shooting in early 2018 in Los Angeles.

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