By Indiewire | Indiewire December 9, 2004 at 2:0AM
Samuel Goldwyn Films Adds "Lila Says" to '05 Roster
by Shilpa Mankikar
Samuel Goldwyn Films has acquired North American distribution rights to Ziad Doueiri's story of sexual awakening, "Lila Says" (Lila dit ca). The film is Doueiri's follow-up to "West Beirut" and stars newcomers Vahina Giacante, Mohammed Khouas and Karim Benhadou, with the soundtrack by Nitin Sawhney. Samuel Goldwyn Films director of acquisitions, Peter Goldwyn negotiated the deal with Eric Lagesse for Pyramide International. The feature, which premiered at the 2004 Toronto International Film Festival, will be released in Summer 2005.
"Lila Says" is based on a book that caused much controversy in France. Nineteen-year-old quiet poet Chimo (Mohammed Khouas) falls for Lila (Vahina Giacante), a gorgeous, blonde girl who just moved in with her creepy aunt in an Arab ghetto. One day Lila asks Chimo to look up her skirt -- if he can handle it. Meanwhile, Mouloud (Karim Benhadou), the loud leader of a rival gang, also sets his sights on Lila. Their game of sexual discovery leads to an unexpected look at tolerance, self-hatred, and machismo. It also questions the fantasy that permeates the film with fun and danger.
"[Giacante] is beautiful and her performance is mesmerizing," commented Meyer Gottlieb, president of Samuel Goldwyn Films in a statement. "It is one of the sexiest pictures I've ever seen, but what won me over was the film's heart and soul."
Lebanese-born Doueiri studied filmmaking in the United States, and worked as an assistant cameraman on several features directed by Quentin Tarantino. His first feature as a director, "West Beirut" (1998), shared the FIPRESCI International Critics Award at the 1998 Toronto International Film Festival. "Lila Says" is his second feature.