Tessa Thompson has signed on to star in an original thriller titled Balestra. She will play Joanna Bathory, an Olympic-level fencer who suffers a professional disgrace, and is eager to come back with a vengeance.
As she prepares for the next ceremony under the guidance of her coach and husband, she undergoes a technologically surreal, experiment; essentially, a program that will allow her to keep training, lucidly, in her dreams.
However, as she uses the program, reality starts to fold in on itself, and her dreamstate becomes dangerously intertwined with the real world. Not only that, but a mysterious stranger begins offering her equal parts terror and temptation.
Nicole Dorsey (Black Conflux) will direct the film, while Imran Zaidi will pen the script from a story by Aron Eli Coleite (Locke & Key). Marwan Kenzari, who just played Jafar in the Aladdin remake, will play the mysterious stranger.
Thompson said in a statement “To embark on this journey, both in front of the lens and behind it, with Nicole Dorsey and this phenomenal team is a dream to me – a most beautiful one”, while Dorsey added:
“To be working alongside the incredibly gifted and perceptive Tessa Thompson on this psychological thriller, ripe with themes of obsession, desire, prestige and fluctuating realities is quite literally a director’s filmic dream”.
Balestra – which is a fencing term for a jump forward followed by a lunge – is the kind of project that we need to see more of; an original thriller led by a movie star with a fresh new voice behind the camera. They have fallen away in recent years as tentpole franchises based on existing IP have developed a stranglehold on multiplexes.
If Balestra can match the impact and acclaim something like Black Swan had ten years ago, that would be terrific, and hopefully signal to studios that not only is Thompson a movie star, but also that there is a demand for original films like this.