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Los Angeles, CA – 08/30/2018 – NELLY, a narrative feature about the sex worker turned international literary star, featuring the French-Canadian actress and Toronto International Film Festival Rising Star, Mylène Mackay (L’Age adulte, Endorphine) in the title role will open theatrically this September. Directed by the up-and-coming Anne Émond (who earned a Special Jury Citation for Best First Feature at TIFF in 2011 for Nuit  #1,) NELLY was produced by GO FILMS’ Nicole Roberts, was an Official Selection at TIFF and named to the annual Canada’s Top 10 list.  After a 25-screen release in Canada, NELLY will open in U.S. theatres starting September 7 in New York City (Village East) followed by Los Angeles /Pasadena on September 14 (Laemmle’s Royal & Playhouse.)

Nelly Arcan was a sex worker in Montreal who wrote a semi-autobiographical novel, Putain (2001; English: Whore (2004)), based on her experiences, which caused a sensation when published as well as garnering critical and media success. That book was nominated for both the Prix Médicis and the Prix Fémina, two of France’s most prestigious literary awards and sold over 30,000 copies in its first run. Arcan, who wrote about self-destruction and feminine beauty as obsessive themes in all of her books, was fixated on being an object of desire herself.  Her death in 2009 by suicide, four days after submitting the last edits to her fourth book, was not a surprise.

Émond doesn’t soften the blow, and she doesn’t milk the melodrama. Rather, she explores the many layers of nuance running through Arcan’s life — from her real writing talent and prescient portrayal of sex as a metaphor for so much more, to the unshakable emptiness that ultimately overwhelmed her.”
T’cha Dunlevy, Montreal Gazette

This is the third feature-length film for Quebec native Émond, who also wrote the screenplay, which she began on the day that Arcan died:

“I was fascinated by her work – I still think that she is one of our best writers here in Quebec, but I was also disturbed by her. She had a very strange public presence, she was physically very “fake,” her speeches and media appearances were disconcerting. She was very smart, and at the same time, very annoying… When I learned about her suicide in the news…I immediately thought about iconic artists: Virginia Woolf, Marilyn Monroe, Jean Seberg, Sylvia Plath, and later Amy Winehouse. It made me ask myself delicate questions. Do we, as female artists, have to suffer? I mean, do we have to die to be taken seriously? Do we have to be sacrificed and mythologized to exist through history? “

The film, based on the life and works of Arcan, also stars SNL Quebec’s Mickaël Gouin and Catherine Brunet (Le Monde de Charlotte). The deal was brokered between Cinema Libre Studio Chairman Philippe Diaz and Anick Poirier, S.V.P. International Sales at Seville International in Toronto.

“Nelly Arcan was a major literary star in the French speaking world,” says Diaz, “Her writing was breathtaking as it delved into the female psychology in all its aspects-particularly sexuality. She was a true writer yet one who chose to be a prostitute, the reasons for that choice colored all of her works. At another level, she was acutely focused on living life on her terms…as well as her death. Since the film was conceived of and directed by a talented woman, Anne Émond, it makes the nuances all the more impactful.”


Run Time: 100 minutes | Language: French with English Subtitles | Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 | Sound: 5.1
Rating: Unrated – contains adult themes.   |   Facebook, Twitter, Instagram: @NELLYTheFilm

Some additional background on Nelly Arcan (in English):

ABOUT CINEMA LIBRE: Cinema Libre Studio is a full-service mini-studio known for producing and distributing high quality feature films and social impact documentaries.  Headquartered in the Los Angeles area, the team has released over 200 films. | |

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