The 2014 Cannes Film Festival has barely just begun, but the first major sale of the fest in already in motion as Sony Pictures Classics has snagged the North American rights to Bertrand Bonello’s Saint Laurent, three days ahead of its in-competition bow. The French-language film, a biopic of the famed French designer Yves Saint Laurent, marks the first sale of a film playing in this years’ competition slate. Saint Laurent premieres on the Croisette on May 17th and will be among the film competing the prestigious Palme D’Or.
Bonello, who previously directed Tiresa and The Pornographer, directed the biographical film and co-wrote the screenplay with Thomas Bidegain (Rust and Bone, A Prophet.) Gaspard Ulliel plays the leading role. The 29-year-old popular French actor is best known as these shores for playing Hannibal Lector in the misguided 2007 prequel Hannibal Rising. He has also appeared in Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s epic love story A Very Long Engagement, and the acclaimed 2010 historical drama The Princess of Montpensier. Co-starring alongside Ulliel is Louis Garrel (The Dreamers), American actor Brady Corbet (also appearing in Clouds of Sils Maria, which will premiere in competition at Cannes) and Léa Seydoux, (Blue is the Warmest Color).
Sony Pictures Classics hasn’t set a release date for Saint Laurent, but if the film becomes a critical favorite of the festival or wins any prizes, it may stand as awards selection for the distributor. Sony Classics has been a frequent home for U.S. distribution for foreign-language films and is regularly in the race in the Best Foreign Film category at the Academy Awards. Curiously, The Weinstein Company also has a Yves Saint Laurent biopic on the horizon– another French-language portrait of the legendary designer. That film– titled Yves Saint Laurent– stars Pierre Niney and is slated for release on June 27th.