EXCLUSIVE: Westworld and Creed star Tessa Thompson is to star with Marwan Kenzari (Aladdin) in psychological thriller Balestra, which Mister Smith, Endeavor Content and CAA Media Finance will be shopping during next week’s Cannes virtual market.
Thompson will also executive-produce the film, which will be directed by Nicole Dorsey (Black Conflux).
Balestra follows disgraced competitive fencer Joanna Bathory (Thompson), who is desperately hoping for an Olympic comeback. Pressured by her husband and coach Rafe, she receives a prototype device allowing her to extend her training into her sleeping hours. By day she’s on the piste, and by night she’s lucid dreaming. But reality begins to blur when she encounters a stranger named Elliot (Kenzari) and gets caught in her own web of subconscious desires and unfulfilling reality.
The film is being produced by Pierre Even (The Hummingbird Project). Also serving as executive producers will be Aron Eli Coleite (Locke & Key) and Automatik’s Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, Fred Berger and Rian Cahill, producers of Honey Boy and Bad Education.
Screenplay was written by Imran Zaidi based on an original story by Aron Eli Coleite. Director of photography will be Christophe Collette and production designer is Jean-François Campeau. Currently in pre-production, start of principal photography will be dated between talent’s current commitments.
Mister Smith is handling international sales while Endeavor Content and CAA Media Finance will rep domestic.
Tessa Thompson commented: “Like the sport that Balestra explores, the conception of this piece is sharp and riveting – its is a fascinating look at the price of winning, and what trouble dreams can become when our sense of self worth, reality and identity are tethered too tightly to them. To embark on this journey, both in front of the lens and behind it, with Nicole Dorsey and this phenomenal team is a dream to me – a most beautiful one.”
Dorsey added: “To be working alongside the incredibly gifted and perceptive Tessa Thompson on this psychological thriller, ripe with themes of obsession, desire, prestige and fluctuating realities is quite literally a director’s filmic dream.”
Thompson is represented by WME, Mosaic, and Jackoway Austen, Tyerman, Wertheimer, Mandelbaum, Morris, Bernstein, Trattner & Klein. Kenzari is represented by ICM Partners and Nummer19 Management. Dorsey is repped by CAA, Grandview, and Morris, Yorn, Barnes, Levine, Krintzman, Rubenstein, Kohner & Gellma. Zaidi is represented by UTA and Grandview. Coleite is repped by Grandview and Jackoway, Austen Tyerman ,Wertheimer.