EXCLUSIVE: French-Canadian drama Nelly is set for a U.S. release after Cinema Libre Studio picked up the rights to Anne Émond’s feature film.

The company, hot on the heels of picking up Vanessa Filho-directed and Marion Cotillard-fronted Angel Face, has taken U.S. rights from eOne’s Seville International.

The film, which stars French-Canadian actress and Toronto International Film Festival Rising Star Myléne Mackay (Endorphine), tells the story of Nelly Arcan, a sex worker in Montreal who wrote a semi-autobiographical novel Putain, based on her experiences.

Arcan, who wrote about self-destruction and feminine beauty as obsessive themes in all of her books, was fixated on being an object of desire herself and she killed herself in 2009, four days after submitting the last edits to her fourth book.

The film, which premiered at TIFF, was produced by Go Films’ Nicole Roberts and was written by Émond. It also stars SNL Quebec’s Mickaël Gouin and Catherine Brunet (Le Monde de Charlotte). The deal was brokered between Cinema Libre Studio Chairman Philippe Diaz and Anick Poirier, SVP, International Sales at Seville International. It is set to open in New York and LA following a 25-screen release in Canada.

It is the fourth film released in 2018 by Cinema Libre directed by a woman following German narrative Lou Andreas Salome: The Audacity to be Free directed by Cordula Kablitz-Post, Leslie Zemeckis-directed Mabel, Mabel, Tiger Trainer, Genetically Modified Children, a documentary co-directed by Juliette Igier and Stephanie Lebrun and Angel Face.

Émond, said, “I was fascinated by Arcan’s work – I still think that she is one of our best writers here in Quebec, but I was also disturbed by her. She had a very strange public presence, she was physically very ‘fake’, her speeches and media appearances were disconcerting. She was very smart, and at the same time, very annoying… When I learned about her suicide in the news, I immediately thought about iconic artists: Virginia Woolf, Marilyn Monroe, Jean Seberg, Sylvia Plath, and later Amy Winehouse. It made me ask myself delicate questions. Do we, as female artists, have to suffer? I mean, do we have to die to be taken seriously? Do we have to be sacrificed and mythologized to exist through history?”