Victoria Bedos, the creator and co-screenwriter of “La Famille Belier,” the hit French film that was remade into Oscar-nominated Sian Heder’s “CODA,” is set to make her Focus Features/Universal debut in France.

For her directorial debut, “Leo and I,” Bedos will once tell the bittersweet story of a teenage girl in an unusual setting, a theme she probed in “Aries Family.” “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 in a group home for the elderly in rural France. Universal will distribute the film in theaters in France and Focus Features owns the worldwide rights.

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In the film, Marie, who grows up as an outsider surrounded by old people and her distant father, is not like the others at school and the other children notice it. One day, fed up with being bullied by her classmates, she dresses up as a boy, Leo, and shows up at a house party. As a Leo, she instantly becomes popular. She falls in love with a boy who only loves her as a Leo. Her father, who cannot stand his daughter’s teenage crisis, finally opens up to her and breaks the taboo surrounding her mother’s death. Bedos said the film will humorously address the complex bond between a father and daughter, particularly during adolescence, and examine how teenagers navigate love and sexuality.

As with “The Belier Family”, the film has a high concept, depicts situations experienced by Bedos, for example school bullying, and the story takes place in a specific environment. “What motivates me is always to turn sadness into something uplifting,” Bedos said.

Bedos has assembled a strong French cast for the picture, which is currently in negotiations and still auditioning teenage girls for the role of Marie-Luce. The key team includes Paul Aim, the director of photography for “Welcome to the Sticks” and the upcoming biopic “Abbe Pierre”, and Nicolas de Boiscuillé, the set designer for “Samba” and “Polisse”.

“I want to do a comedy-drama that’s very accessible and also unique in its appearance, so the idea is to have a neat visual style, like in ‘Little Miss Sunshine’, ‘Sex Education’ or ‘Juno,'” said said Bedos, who is writing the screenplay for “Leo et moi” with Louis Penicaut, in collaboration with Eulalie Elsker.

Bedos, from an illustrious family of French comedians and writers, had the original idea for “La Famille Belier” and wrote the screenplay with Stanislas Carré de Malberg.

The comedy-drama, which was France’s highest-grossing local film of 2015, follows a 16-year-old girl who is the only speaking member of a deaf family torn between her desire to become a singer and her deep love for her parents who rely on her. Singer, actress, writer and author, Bedos says the story of “La Famille Bélier” was inspired by her father’s assistant (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 during her teenage years and her difficulty cutting the cord with her parents when she left their home. “I remember crying non-stop when I left them… I was singing ‘My dear parents, I’m leaving’ (the Michel Sardoux song that Paula sings in ‘La Famille Bélier’) all day and I was sobbing”, Bedos recalls.

Bedos’ busy pipeline also includes a series for major French TV channel TF1 which is based on a true story of rape survivors coming together to overcome trauma.

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