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Protagonist boards Chloé Zhao's 'The Rider' ahead of Cannes debut

US-set title gets sales deal before Directors’ Fortnight premiere.

London-based sales outfit Protagonist Pictures has boarded Chloé Zhao’s The Rider ahead of the film’s debut in Cannes Directors’ Fortnight next month.

Written and directed by Zhao, whose first feature Songs My Brothers Taught Me played in Directors’ Fortnight in 2015, the US-set film follows a young cowboy who, once a rodeo star, suffers a tragic riding accident.

Non-professional actors Brady Jandreau, Tim Jandreau, Lilly Jandreau and Lane Scott star alongside Cat Clifford, who appeared in Songs My Brothers Taught Me.

Director Zhao met Brady, who is a professional cowboy, while working on her first feature, eventually writing the new film’s script based on his story.

The Rider

The Rider

The film was produced by Zhao’s company Highwayman Films, with Bert Hamelinck and Sacha Ben Harroche of Caviar Films, and Mollye Asher. Caviar’s Michael Sagol and Jasper Thomlinson serve as executive producers.

Protagonist will launch sales on the title at Cannes and is co-repping domestic rights with WME Global.

Protagonist CEO Mike Goodridge commented: “The Rider is a film of great beauty and poetry…I was a huge admirer of Chloé’s first feature, and her story of the young cowboy Brady is another indelible portrait of contemporary rural Americans.”

The company also has Sean Baker’s Willem Dafoe-starring The Florida Project playing in Directors’ Fortnight.

Its slate also includes Clio Barnard’s Dark River, Richard Loncraine’s Finding Your Feet and Amma Asante’s Where Hands Touch, all of which are in post-production, while the company has Pawel Pawilkowski’s Cold War and Kristoffer Nyholm’s Keepers currently shooting.

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