Victoria Bedos, the creator and co-writer of “La Famille Belier,” the hit French movie that was remade into Sian Heder’s Oscar-nominated “CODA,” is getting ready to make her feature debut with Focus Features/Universal in France.
For her directorial debut, “Leo et moi,” Bedos will once tell the bittersweet story of a teenager set against an unusual backdrop, a theme she probed in “Famille Belier.” “Leo et moi” (working title) is produced by Hélène Cases at Lionceau Films and follows 14-year-old Marie-Luce Bison, who lives with her widowed father at a group home for seniors in rural France. Universal will distribute the film in theaters in France and Focus Features has global rights.
In the film, Marie, growing up as an outsider surrounded by elderly people and her distant father, isn’t like anyone else at school and the other kids notice it. One day, fed up of being bullied by her classmates, she dresses up as a boy, Leo, and shows up at a house party. As Leo, she becomes instantly popular. She falls in love with a boy who only loves her as Leo. Her father de ella, who ca n’t cope with his daughter’s teenage crisis de ella, finally opens up to her and breaks the taboo surrounding her mother’s death de ella. Bedos said the film will tackle in a humorous way the complex bond between a father and daughter, especially during adolescence, and look at how teens navigate love and sexuality.
As with “La Famille Belier,” the film boasts a high concept, depicts situations Bedos experienced, for instance the school bullying, and the story is set in a specific environment. “What drives me is always to turn the sadness into something uplifting,” Bedos said.
Bedos has assembled a strong French cast for the pic, which is currently in negotiations and is still auditioning teenage girls for the role of Marie-Luce. The key crew includes Paul Aim, the cinematographer of “Welcome to the Sticks” and the upcoming “Abbe Pierre” biopic, and Nicolas de Boiscuillé, the set designer of “Samba” and “Polisse.”
“I want to make a comedy-drama that’s very accessible and also unique in the way it looks, so the idea is to have a well-polished visual style, as in ‘Little Miss Sunshine,’ ‘Sex Education’ or ‘Juno, ‘” said Bedos, who is writing the script of “Leo et moi” with Louis Penicaut, in collaboration with Eulalie Elsker.
Bedos, who was born into an illustrious family of French comedians and writers, came up with the original idea for “La Famille Belier” and wrote the screenplay with Stanislas Carré de Malberg.
The dramedy, which was France’s highest-grossing local film in 2015, follows a 16-year-old girl who is the only speaking member of a deaf family and is torn between her desire to become a singer and her deep love for her parents who rely on her. A singer, actor, writer and author, Bedos said the story of “La Famille Belier” was inspired by her assistant of her father (the late revered French comedian Guy Bedos), who was also a child of deaf adults. She then incorporated into the story some experiences and feelings she had for her during her teen years and her difficulty to cut the cord with her parents for her when she moved out of their home. “I remember crying non-stop when I left them… I would sing ‘Mes chers parents je pars’ (the song by Michel Sardoux which Paula sings in ‘La Famille Belier’) all day long and sob,” reminsced Bedos.
Bedos’ busy pipeline also includes a series for leading French TV channel TF1 which is based on a true story of rape survivors who band together to get through the trauma.