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Gaumont Boards Ambitious Reindeer Documentary ‘Ailo’s Journey’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Variety logo Variety 5/17/2017 Elsa Keslassy
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French film major Gaumont has come on board Guillaume Maidatchevsky’s “Ailo’s Journey,” a documentary chronicling the yearlong odyssey of a newborn reindeer through hundreds of miles of Arctic wilderness.

Cecile Gaget, head of Gaumont international co-production and distribution, said that Gaumont had boarded “Ailo’s Journey” because it is scripted and highly engaging rather than slow and meditative. Gaumont is introducing the film to buyers at the Cannes Film Festival.

Gaumont will release the film in France in the fall of 2018. The French company previously released nature documentary “Earth” in France, which fared well.

Budgeted at 4 million euros ($4.4 million), “Ailo’s Journey” will shoot for 20 weeks beginning in August, for an expected delivery in the winter of 2018. “Ailo’s Journey” is produced by Laurent Baudens, Gael Nouaille and Laurent Flahault at Borsalino, Finnish banner Matila Röhr Productions Oy (“Tale of a Lake”), and Erik Kjeseth and Dyveke Graver are co-producing at Norwegian outfit Film Farms (“Rams”). Ascot Elite has distribution rights for Germany and Switzerland.

“‘Ailo’s Journey’ will be first and foremost a heartwarming Christmas tale for the family, and it will have a solid scientific footing…addressing global warming and the impact of men on nature,” Baudens said, adding that the documentary, which has been developed over five years, will be character-driven and packed with action.

The producers are currently casting prominent French and American narrators.

“Ailo’s Journey” is part of Borsalino’s mandate to broaden its scope to start producing cinematic documentary features.

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