Paris-based international sales company The Party Film Sales has nabbed the rights for Antongiulio Panizzi’s hybrid documentary “The Girl in the Fountain,” a double portrait of icons Anita Ekberg and Monica Bellucci, which opened at the Torino Film Festival last November.

The story of an actress devoured by her own icon, the film alternates between archive footage of Ekberg and reenacted scenes by Bellucci, who retraces Ekberg’s weaknesses and choices, inviting the viewer to reflect on what it is like to be an icon, providing a fresh look at femininity, fame and media exposure.

The famous scene in Federico Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita,” in which Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg take a midnight dip in the Trevi Fountain, hides a much more chaotic life – that of an actress consumed by her own iconic image, says Panizzi.

Speaking to Variety ahead of the Torino premiere, Panizzi said that the iconic scene turned out to be a burden for the actress, who got to experience what Rita Hayworth meant when she said that “they go to bed with Gilda; they wake up with me.”

It was the director’s wish to have Bellucci tell the Swedish icon’s story, as he believed she would be the perfect match. But, he told Variety, “Monica is in charge of her life, working on many films and generally at a great place in her career. Maybe the perception of women was different at that time? Either way, Anita was stuck in that fountain,” he said.

The Italian icon dyed her hair blonde for the role and surprised Panizzi on the last day of shooting with a letter she had written to Ekberg, an extract of which is used in the film.

“Anita Ekberg had such a powerful image that it overshadowed the woman and the actress, allowing only the myth to shine. In making this film I got closer to her intimacy. I discovered a sensitive, talented person, maybe too independent for a time when women in Italy were mostly confined to a domestic dimension,” said Bellucci.

“She arrived like a hurricane, breaking the rules of those times, when to be a woman and an actress was largely different to today. She paid dearly for her desire for freedom. We, as women today, have a lot to learn from women like her,” she added.

Welcoming the deal, head of TV sales at The Party Film Sales Estelle de Araujo said: “ ‘The Girl in the Fountain’ perfectly fits our desire to keep on developing our documentary collection around cinema with intimate and unique approaches. Recent examples include “Oscar Micheaux, the Superhero of Black Filmmaking” by Francesco Zippel (Cannes Classic 2021) or “U-96, The True Story of “Das Boot” by Raphaël Millet, currently in production.

“It’s a surprising film where Monica Bellucci slips into Anita Ekberg’s skin, creating a double portrait of two great actresses and shedding lights on the strong women behind the icons. With a rarely seen mise-en-scène, we are confident audiences will be moved and inspired by this introspective film.”

“The Girl in the Fountain” is a co-production between Dugong Films and Eagle Pictures in Italy and Shoot&Post in Sweden, with the support of Regione Lazio – Lazio Cinema International.

The Party Film Sales is at the Cannes Film Market with Tessa Louise-Salomé’s doc “The Wild One,” which will have its world premiere at Tribeca, and the director’s cut of “Bambi, a French Woman” by Sébastien Lifshitz, which traces the life of one of the first French transgender women.

The distributor is also handling sales for “Polaris” by Ainara Vera, screened in the Acid Selection, which will close the Market’s Doc Day on May 24.

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