Berlin: Zoe Saldana Boards Fencing Drama 'Fencer,' Casey Affleck Producing

Zoe Saldana - Valentino Avant Garden - Publicity - H 2017
Courtesy of Stefanie Keenan

HanWay Films are introducing the project, based on writer-director Jasmine McGlade's own experiences as a competitive fencer, to buyers in Berlin.

Zoe Saldana is set to enter the highly competitive world of fencing with Fencer, from writer-director Jasmine McGlade. 

HanWay Films will handle international sales and distribution on the project and introduce it to buyers at next week's European Film Market in Berlin. UTA Independent Film Group and CAA Media Finance are overseeing the U.S. sale.

Saldana (Avengers: Endgame, Avatar, Guardians of the Galaxy) is attached to play Mae, an ambitious female athlete facing personal demons and childhood rivals as she vies for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team. 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.

Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea, Interstellar, A Ghost Story) is producing with Whitaker Lader. Affleck and Lader previously teamed up on Light of My Life and Mona Fastvold’s The World to Come, starring Vanessa Kirby and Katherine Waterston, currently in postproduction. Also producing are McGlade and Claudia Bluemhuber of Silver Reel (The Wife, Loving Vincent, Official Secrets), which is also financing. Oscar winner Imagine Entertainment (Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, Rush, 8 Mile) will executive produce.

Fencer is inspired by McGlade’s experiences as a national champion fencer. McGlade capped her tenure at Harvard University by leading her team to the school’s first-ever NCAA championship title in fencing.

"As a writer and filmmaker I seek to tell brazen, character-driven stories about people who are flawed, and thus real. Especially women. Characters who are their own worst enemies and yet incredibly resilient," said McGlade.

"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."

Affleck and Lader added: “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. 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."

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