Naomi Osaka listed as executive producer of Belgian film ahead of Cannes premiere

Belgian film Julie Zwijgt will premiere tomorrow at the Cannes Film Festival with Japanese Tennis Star Naomi Osaka as the executive producer. The filmmakers hope that she can bring the film to American theatres via her production company. The American magazine Variety announced this today, and the film's production team confirmed it.

Osaka's production house Hana Kuma has signed on to back the Belgian film marking Leonardo Van Dijl's directing debut. The plot revolves around a young tennis star named Julile who remains silent during an investigation into her coach's suspension.

The story resonated with Osaka, who was number one in women's tennis in 2019. She has been a spokesperson for mental health and psychological pressure from sports and felt this narrative was articulated accurately in the film. “I am so excited to be part of the team on this film with a subject that is so close to my and Hana Kuma's hearts,” Osaka said in an interview. “Leonardo is an incredible talent and supporting this story is more than an honor. It is an opportunity to amplify voices and continue important conversations that drive meaningful change both on and off the field.”

©De Wereldvrede

The deal between Hana Kuma and the Belgian production company behind the film, De Wereldvrede, was closed last night. For Van Dijl, this is an enormous honour. "I really have no words for it, I can hardly understand it. Osaka is one of my idols: she speaks when she wants to speak and doesn't let anyone pressure her. It's like if you were making a film about a girl who sings, Taylor Swift then sees that film and then says: I'm going to co-produce that film," he said.

The filmmakers hope that the collaboration with Hana Kuma could lead to a larger market for the film. "De Wereldvrede's network is limited, as we are a European-oriented production house," explains Gilles De Schryver, actor and one of the founders of De Wereldvrede. "But with Hana Kuma on board, it suddenly becomes much easier to reach the United States. Naomi Osaka really becomes an ambassador for the film, and will thus promote the film trying to get it into the halls."

Naomi Osaka © TIZIANA FABI / AFP

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