French director Rémi Chayé is currently working on his latest project Calamity – A Childhood of Martha Jane Cannary, the follow-up to his acclaimed 2015 feature debut Long Way North. Ahead of its premiere next year, the new film has been acquired by Indie Sales, who will handle international sales rights.

Chayé’s film follows Martha Jane, aka Calamity Jane, a 12-year-old girl who is forced to grow up quickly and take care of her siblings after her father is injured during their journey to the West. However, being a girl adds difficulty to her mission in the patriarchal and sexist society of the 19th century. To get around that hurdle, Martha Jane decides to dress as a boy, and the story takes another twist when she is accused of theft and must prove her innocence.

Back in 2016, Chayé told Cartoon Brew the new film would have the same style, team, and pipeline as Long Way North, and noted that though he won’t use any actual iconography related to the Western genre, the story will still have hints of it throughout.

Calamity is being produced by Sacrebleu Productions and Maybe Movies, which also brought Chayé’s Long Way North to the screen.

There are definite parallels between Calamity and Long Way North, particularly in the fact that they are both period pieces that follow young heroines on a quest to defy the constraints of a world where men hold all the power. Like with his previous work, Chayé is taking this new character on an epic adventure fueled by emotionally resonant themes.

Nicolas Eschbach, Indie Sales’ co-founder, described to Variety the new project as being in “the same vein as Long Way North, yet more sophisticated in terms of artistic direction and ambition.” Eleanor Coleman, Indie Sales’s head of animated acquisitions, praised the way Chayé depicts the American West in Calamity, calling it a “wonderful artistic interpretation of the origins of a decidedly modern female hero.”

Paris-based Indie Sales will introduce the film this month to buyers at the Cannes Film Market. The company has successfully brought to market a number of other award-winning animated features including Claude Barras’ heartwarming stop motion film My Life as a Zucchini, as well as Another Day of Life and Tito and the Birds.

Calamity – A Childhood of Martha Jane Cannary is also scheduled to participate in Annecy’s work-in-progress section in June. The movie has already secured distribution in France via Gebeka, which will open the film in 2020.

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