Elsa Zylberstein, the French César-winning actor and producer whose popular movie “Simone: Woman of the Century” recently opened in the U.S., is preparing a biopic movie of fashion icon Christian Dior.
The film is being penned by Julien Teisseire (“The Hookup Plan”) and is being developed by Zylberstein’s banner Sonia Films and Odile McDonald (“Ransom”).
More from Variety
Zylberstein, who is in Venice to participate in the Impact Jury along with Nadine Labaki (“Costa Brava Lebanon”) and Yalitza Aparicio (“Roma”), among others, told Variety that the film will open in 1947, in Paris, after World War II. Spanning a decade, the film sees Dior forging an empire alongside Raymonde Zehnacker, and falling madly in love with a much younger man, Jacques Benita.
“Christian Dior was a fiercely private man so people know very little about him and he was not a flamboyant character like other fashion designers or popular cultural icons, but he was no less fascinating,” said Zylberstein, whose mother worked for Christian Dior Perfume for many years, starting in the 1970’s.
“It’s a world that I’m very familiar with because I grew up in it through my mother,” said Zylberstein. “Christian Dior was like ‘mister normal’ and he wasn’t a Parisian, he came from Normandy.’ He was always discreet but he was also extremely resilient. That’s why his legacy is still alive today.”
More than just a film about fashion, the biopic will explore the love triangle between Dior, Zehnacker and Benita. Zylberstein will play the part of Zehnacker, a powerful ally who had an active role in helping Dior rise up in the competitive post-war fashion scene in Paris. “We like to say that behind every successful man there’s a woman, and that was also true for Dior.”
Dior will also be the subject of “The New Look,” Todd A. Kessler’s (”Bloodline”)’s AppleTV+ series starring Ben Mendelsohn (“Bloodline”) as Dior and Juliette Binoche (“The English Patient”) as Coco Chanel.
Aside from the Dior project, Zylberstein is also developing a spy thriller about Sylvia Rafael, a South African-born Israeli Mossad agent who was involved in the fateful Lillehammer case, a 1973 assassination attempt on Ali Hassan Salameh. Peter Landesman (“Concussion”) is attached to direct the film.
Zylberstein will soon be traveling to the U.S. where her film “Simone: Woman of the Century” has just been released by Samuel Goldwyn Films. The film, directed by Olivier Dahan – who is best-known for his Oscar-winning Edith Piaf biopic starring Marion Cotillard — earned top reviews and turned out to be one of the highest grossing French films of 2022 with more than 2.5 million tickets sold.
“Simone” explores the tumultuous life of Simone Veil, an Auschwitz survivor who became health minister of France and championed the 1975 law that legalized abortion in France. She was also the first woman to preside over the European Parliament.
Zylberstein hopes the film will strike a chord in America and build on the current political momentum. “When you look at was Simone Veil fought for, they’re all timely issues, from exclusion to racism and antisemitism, to the abortion law. She also fought to improve prison conditions and give dignity to people living on the margins of society,” said Zylberstein. “She was fiery and ambitious, she wanted to have a career and make something of her life at a time where married women of her social rank were expected to stay at home,” Zylberstein continued, adding that she has received tons of testimonies since the film came out from women around the world.
“It’s a movie that’s truly inspirational,” she said, “because it’s about a woman who overcame such adversity and such tragedy in her young years and was able to rise from that darkness and leave her mark in society.”
Best of Variety