Lea Seydoux to Lead New ‘Emmanuelle’ Adaptation by ‘Happening’ Director Audrey Diwan

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French soft-core icon Emmanuelle is returning to screens.

Léa Seydoux is set to play the character in a new film inspired by Emmanuelle Arsan’s erotic novel, with Audrey Diwan, who won the Golden Lion in Venice last year for her abortion drama Happening, set to direct.

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Emmanuelle — being launched in the Cannes film market — will mark the English-language debut for Diwan, who developed the script with Rebecca Zlotowski (An Easy Girl). Wild Bunch International and CAA Media Finance will introduce the project to buyers on Wednesday, May 18, in Cannes at a presentation featuring Diwan.

First published in French in 1967, Emmanuelle — which would follow the sexual adventures of the titular character through a series of explicit erotic fantasies — was famously adapted into the 1974 film directed by Just Jaeckin and starring Sylvia Kristel. The film would prove to be hugely popular internationally (and would become Columbia Pictures’ first X-rated release) and lead to a long line of sequels, alongside parodies and low-budget knockoffs (including the Italian series Black Emanuelle, which circumvented copyright issues by altering the spelling).

Alongside winning the top prize in Venice, Happening, adapted from Annie Ernaux’s book recounting her illegal abortion in the 1960s, also landed Diwan a BAFTA nomination. Zlotowski’s credits include the award-winning Belle Epine (Dear Prudence), plus Grand Central and The Summoning. In 2019, she directed her first miniseries, Savages (Les Sauvages), for Canal Plus, co-written and adapted from a novel by Sabri Louatah. Her fourth film, An Easy Girl, premiered in the Directors’ Fortnight in 2018 and won the SACD Prize. She is currently in postproduction on Other People’s Children.

Seydoux, meanwhile, is in Cannes this year with two films: David Cronenberg’s Crimes of the Future and One Fine Morning from Mia Hansen-Love.

Diwan is represented by CAA and Adéquat. Zlotowski is represented by CAA and Film Rights, and Seydoux is represented by Adéquat and UTA.

Adaptation rights for Arsan’s book were acquired by Marion Delord and Reginald de Guillebon’s production company Chantelouve.

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