North American Premiere • Drama • France, 2016

DCP • 2.35 • Dolby 5.1 • Color • 110 min

Directed by: Roschdy Zem

Written by: Cyril Gely, Olivier Gorce, Gérard Noiriel, Roschdy Zem

Cinematography: Thomas Letellier

Film Editing: Monica Coleman

Original Score: Gabriel Yared

Produced by: Éric Altmayer, Nicolas Altmayer (Mandarin Films)

Cast: Omar Sy (Chocolat), James Thiérrée (Footit), Clotilde Hesme (Marie), Olivier Gourmet (Oller), Frédéric Pierrot (Delvaux), Noémie Lvovsky (Mme Delvaux), Alice de Lencquesaing (Camille), Olivier Rabourdin (Gemier) 

International Sales: Gaumont •


The 20th Anniversary of COLCOA celebrates its opening night with this lively, lavish biopic set in the Belle Époque worlds of circus and music halls. Omar Sy effortlessly juggles comedy and compassion as Raphael Padilla, a.k.a. Chocolat, the first black star of the French stage. Born a slave in Cuba, Padilla makes his way to a rag-tag circus in Europe, where he plays a tooth-baring cannibal named Kalanka for provincial rubes who’ve never seen a black man before. Impressed with Padilla’s agility, George Footit partners up with him and they develop a clown act that catapults them to fame and fortune – more or less, since Footit, the white man in the partnership, takes most of the fortune. Success is bittersweet for Chocolat, who stays positive despite the fact that his act consists of mocking his own race to the delight of French audiences. But when he tries to step outside the character society wants him to play, those delighted audiences vanish in droves. Monsieur Chocolat revives the legend of a trailblazing artist whom history has all but forgotten.

The fourth film of writer/director Roschdy Zem is his first period piece, and his most ambitious effort yet. Most people will know Zem for a diverse acting career that has spanned nearly three decades. He brings that same versatility to directing, ranging from his cross-cultural comedy Bad Faith (COLCOA 2007), to the crime drama Omar Killed Me (2011) to the family drama Bodybuilder (2014). This project was first proposed to Zem by producers Éric and Nicolas Altmayer, who had a Cyril Gely script based on a theater piece and subsequent book by historian Gérard Noiriel. For the final adaptation Zem brought in his Omar Killed Me collaborator Oliver Gorce. For the role of Footit, Zem cast Charlie Chaplin’s grandson James Thiérrée, an accomplished acrobat and juggler who designed and choreographed the circus numbers.



“Monsieur Chocolat has all the elements of a great film.”

– Judith Prescott, French Cinema Review

“Sy does a fantastic job channeling the spirit of a man caught between his desire to be rich and free and the gradual recognition that he’s still only someone else’s whipping boy.”

– Jordan Mintzer, Hollywood Reporter