Lea Seydoux to Star in French Period Thriller ‘Party of Fools’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Elsa Keslassy

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Lea Seydoux, the French star of Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch,” will headline “Party of Fools” (“Le Bal des Folles”), a high-profile period drama-thriller to be directed by Arnaud des Pallières.

The female-driven movie is produced by two of France’s biggest producers, Philippe Rousselet and Jonathan Blumental, at the Paris-based company Prelude. The pair previously teamed on Michel Hazanavicius’s “The Lost Prince” with Omar Sy.

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“Party of Fools,” which is the first high-profile, big-budget project to be announced since the start of the coronavirus crisis, is expected to begin shooting at the end of 2020 or early 2021.

Written for the screen by Arnaud des Pallières and Christelle Berthevas, the film is set during the Paris Carnival in 1893 and is based on true historical events and characters. It takes place at the Pitié Salpétrière mental institution for women, which is rendered the epicenter of an elaborate ball where politicians, artists and socialites all come together to partake in a raucous night of festivities.

Seydoux will star as Fanni, one of 150 female patients who have been selected from among 4,500 to take part in the ball due to their good behavior and looks. However, as the night unfolds, Fanni has just one goal in mind — to find her mother among the crowd and escape.

Rousselet said the film has been developed over the last two years. Des Pallières, whose credits include “Michael Kohlhaas,” was approached to bring an “auteur” dimension to the project. Rousselet’s roster also includes Sian Heder’s “Coda,” the English-language remake of the French smash hit “La Famille Belier,” starring Emilia Jones, and an ambitious mini-series retelling the devastating fire that ripped through the Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris.

Besides “The French Dispatch, Seydoux, who is repped by Gregory Weill at Adequat, will next be seen in the upcoming James Bond feature “No Time To Die,” directed by Cary Fukunaga, as well as Ildikò Enyedi’s “The Story of My Wife.”

Another film set against the same historical backdrop of the Pitié Salpétrière psychiatric hospital, called “The Mad Women’s Ball” and directed by Melanie Laurent (“Gaveston”), is currently being developed by Alain Goldman’s Legende Films. This film, however, is based on Victoria Mas’s novel and has a different plot from Des Pallières’s upcoming movie.

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