Balthazar resets 'Ben X' for U.S.


Belgian writer-director Nic Balthazar has announced plans to remake his local boxoffice smash "Ben X" for the U.S. market.

Balthazar was approached by Wamerica — the Los Angeles-based production house of French comic Alain Chabat — to rewrite and direct the film. "I'm very surprised by the concrete interest," Balthazar told Flemish-language daily Het Laaste Nieuws.

The $2 million Flemish-language drama — Belgium's entry in next year's foreign-language Oscar race — centers on autistic teenager Ben (Greg Timmermans), who retreats into violent online role-playing games to escape from bullying at school. It has been seen by 250,000 people in Flanders in just eight weeks, making it the most successful Flemish film of the past four years.

"Ben X" won three prizes at the Montreal Film Festival in September: the Grand Prix of the Americas, the Audience Award and the Ecumenical Prize. It also won the Black Pearl, the top prize at this year's inaugural edition of the Middle East International Film Festival in Abu Dhabi.

Paris-based Films Distribution has sold "Ben X" in 32 countries including the U.K., Germany, France and Spain.