Zoe Saldana to Play Aspiring Olympic Fencer in Casey Affleck-Produced Drama

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Zoe Saldana is set to star in “Fencer,” a drama from director Jasmine McGlade that places Saldana in the competitive world of fencing as she vies for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team.

HanWay Films announced the news on Thursday and is presenting the film to buyers at the European Film Market. Casey Affleck is producing the film along with Whitaker Lader.

“Fencer” is inspired by McGlade’s experiences as a national champion fencer. McGlade, an executive producer on “La La Land” and the director of “Maria My Love” from 2011, capped her tenure at Harvard University by leading her team to the school’s first-ever NCAA Championship title in fencing.

Saldana is attached to star as Mae, an extremely intense and determined young woman who finds discipline, self-respect and peace in the most unlikely place – the fencing piste. But she also struggles with rivalry and her own inner demons, her struggle and obsession ruling every facet of her life to the detriment of family and friendships; achieving physical and mental perfection for the fight comes at a cost. As Mae competes to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, a tragic accident leads Mae to question everything about her life and fencing career as a life-long ambition weighs heavy on her shoulders and her greatest goal lies within reach.

HanWay Films will commence sales at the European Film Market with UTA Independent Film Group and CAA Media Finance overseeing the U.S. sale.

Also producing are McGlade and Claudia Bluemhuber of Silver Reel, who is also financing. Imagine Entertainment will executive produce.

“As a writer and filmmaker I seek to tell brazen, character-driven stories about people who are flawed, and thus real. Especially women,” McGlade said in a statement. “Characters who are their own worst enemies and yet incredibly resilient. Fencer is a celebration of perseverance and sacrifice, while also a cautionary tale about the dangers of getting one’s sense of worth and security solely through achievement and external validation. ‘Fencer’ will provide one of the screen’s first realistic glimpses into the thrilling world of fencing, much more demanding and diverse than stereotypes may suggest, and an intimate and intense look into the minds and lives of female athletes. It is a dream come true to get to work with Zoe on Fencer, and to marry my two greatest passions: filmmaking and fencing.”

“We feel so lucky to be a part of Fencer, which is an unflinchingly honest look at an ambitious, complex woman whose relationships and motivations defy simple categorization,” Affleck and Lader said in a statement. “The powerful script forces us to ask ourselves some of life’s most fundamental questions: ‘What defines you? Is it your work, reputation, relationships? What matters most to you and what will you do to protect that?’ We immediately fell in love with Jasmine’s unique story and perspective, and since partnering have been blown away by her intelligence, creativity, and tireless work ethic.”

“When Casey and Whitaker brought this story to Silver Reel we were on production with ‘The Wife’ – I remember being in my trailer reading ‘Fencer:’ There we were – shooting a character that is vulnerable yet resilient, sensitive but strong-headed, lost and determined at the same time,” Bluemhuber said in a statement. “I had a déjà vu because Jasmine was able with Mae to create exactly that: A woman’s journey that draws you in and does not let go of you until the very last frame.”

“We are thrilled to support Jasmine’s singular vision for ‘Fencer.’ Jasmine has used all her personal experience as a fencer to bring a high level of energy and authenticity when it comes to Mae’s emotional, physical and psychological journey as she fights to be the very best. It’s gladiatorial and yet deeply moving,” HanWay Films managing director Gabrielle Stewart said in a statement.

Saldana is represented by CAA and LBI Entertainment. McGlade is represented by UTA and Lighthouse Management & Media.