Venice Days Title ‘The Zola Experience,’ Centered on Stage Adaptation of ‘L’Assommoir,’ Picked Up by Syndicado

Gianluca Matarrese’s “The Zola Experience,” which will have its world premiere at Venice Days, has been picked up for international sales by Syndicado. Cinecittà will distribute the film in Italy.

According to Matarrese, the film “explores the boundaries between fiction and documentary.” It centers on Anne, a theater director, who has separated from her husband and is moving house. Life for her is dull, and she feels no desire. She meets Ben, a helpful neighbor and jobless actor. He looks at her with passionate eyes, but she never wants to tie herself to a man again.

However, when she decides to embark on a stage production of Émile Zola’s novel “L’Assommoir,” it is to him that she proposes the role of Coupeau, casting herself as Gervaise. As the story unfolds, the boundary between real life and the play becomes increasingly blurred.

The film stars Anne Barbot and Benoît Dallongeville. The screenplay is by Matarrese, Barbot and Dallongeville.

Matarrese comments: “The structure of the film is an exchange, a dialogue between two narratives, the one of the play on stage, and the one of the actors, backstage. Offstage, the actors are caught in intimate conversations, immersed in their everyday element, in reflections or during preparations before sliding into fiction.

“The camera was the medium of immersion in the inner movements of the characters. The editing process created links between the moments of play in theatrical fiction and the real world, to the point of voluntarily losing the usual references and codes between the different registers.”

“The Zola Experience” is produced by Dominique Barneaud and Donatella Palermo for Bellota Films and Stemal Entertainment.

Paris-based Matarrese has made eight documentary films in the past five years, including “A Steady Job,” which world premiered at Visions du Réel film festival last year, and aired on Franco-German channel ARTE and German broadcaster Norddeutscher Rundfunk. He also directed “Fashion Babylon,” which world premiered last year at CPH:DOX film festival and was supported by France Télévisions.

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