WILLY I / Willy 1er

North American Premiere • Drama, Comedy • France, 2016

DCP • 1.85 • Dolby • Color • 82 min

Directed by: Ludovic Boukherma, Zoran Boukherma, Marielle Gautier, Hugo P. Thomas

Written by: Ludovic Boukherma, Zoran Boukherma, Marielle Gautier, Hugo P. Thomas

Cinematography: Thomas Rames

Film Editing: Xavier Sirven, Héloïse Pelloquet

Original Score: Hugo P. Thomas, Sofiane Kadi

Produced by: Pierre-Louis Garnon, Frédéric Jouve (Les Films Velvet), Baxter Films

Cast: Daniel Vannet (Willy/Michel), Noémie Lvovsky (Catherine), Romain Léger (Willy 2), Eric Jacquet (José), Robert Follet (Père de Willy)

International Sales: Alma Cinéma


This tragicomic feature debut from no fewer than four co-directors casts non-actor Daniel Vannet as the hero in the story of his own life. Stocky, disheveled, illiterate and inarticulate, Willy has lived a humdrum existence; all 50 years of it with his parents in a provincial northern backwater. When his twin brother dies, Willy takes it upon himself to become a fully independent member of greater society, a journey that will take him as far and wide as the neighboring village. If Willy endures, it is not because he is extraordinary, but because he struggles so sincerely to become ordinary -- an apartment, a scooter, and some friends -- Willy wants it all. Thus begins this sweetly melancholic social misfit’s late initiation into adulthood. Along the way he encounters another Willy, a young man also living on the margins, but for very different reasons. At once cruel and sensitive, sentimental and squalid, Willy I emerges finally as a delicate rumination on otherness and social conformity.


In 2014 co-writers/co-directors Ludovic Boukherma, Zoran Boukherma, Marielle Gautier, and Hugo P. Thomas were enrolled in Luc Besson’s film academy, Ecole de la Cité. Assigned the task of making a short in 48 hours, the four formed a team, and have been working together since. While watching a television program about illiteracy, they saw Daniel Vannet, who had learned to read at the age of 45. Struck by his gentle humor and determination, they decided to meet him. Vannet acted in two of the quartet’s shorts, and received an award at the Clermont Ferrand Festival for his performance in Perraut La Fontaine Mon Cul! (2015). From there, the four directors developed a feature script inspired by Vannet’s life. The directing ensemble insists that the director’s chair is shared equally at all times. A standout in Cannes’ 2016 indie sidebar ACID, WiIly I went on to take the Prix d'Ornano-Valenti for outstanding first film at the 2016 Deauville American Film Festival.