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About The Production

In a small town where life has been the same for 100 years, a war is about to break out between the tranquility of tradition and the fear of change. The shock of the new, the excitement of letting go, the dangers of denying people joy and the temptations of intolerance are aroused by a chocolaterie's delectable sweets in CHOCOLAT, a comic fable about the magical power of indulging in pleasure. Directed by Lasse Hallstrom. CHOCOLAT is itself a richly layered confection, the tale of several interconnected villagers whose comical confrontations and misbegotten dreams become a moving exploration of tolerance and personal liberation. The film features an all-star ensemble cast including Juliette Binoche. Judi Dench, Alfred Molina, Lena Olin, Johnny Depp. Carrie-Anne Moss. Peter Stormare and Victoire Thivisol.

At the center of CHOCOLAT is a woman charged with special powers: Vianne Rocher, a mysterious outsider who arrives in the French village of Lansquenet to open a chocolaterie featuring luscious candies that can. in addition to tantalizing the tongue, cure lost hopes and awaken unexpected emotions.

Vianne's effect is immediate and extraordinary: the elderly find themselves recalling young love, troubled couples regain their spark and sniping neighbors become happy friends. But Vianne's sumptuous candies also arouse something else: an escalating battle between passion and moral indignation. As some in the town begin to let go, others clamp down, led by the righteous Comte de Reynaud. who declares Vianne public enemy number one. Just as Vianne is about to raise the white flag. an unexpected romance with a handsome stranger forces her to choose between leaving her hostile surroundings or making a true difference to the townsfolk of Lansquenet.

The battles the free-spirited Vianne undertakes in the name of living life without denial first came to the fore in Joanne Harris's acclaimed. mouthwatering novel Chocolat. Critics and readers alike were swept up by the noxel's dramatic use of chocolate as a metaphor for the liberating powers of pleasure. One of those drawn to Harris's tale was director Lasse Hallstrom. who most recently undertook the screen adaptation of John Irving's The Cider House Rules, garnering critical acclaim and multiple Oscar nominations, including two Academy Award wins. Hallstrom saw at the heart of Harris's unusual fable a quality he always looks for in his cinematic stories: a celebration of the funny. eccentric and wonderfully unpredictable ways human beings behave with one another.

Hallstrom also found himself enchanted by the story's exploration of life's most delectable moments — and how they arise from the bitter, the dark and the semi-sweet. Ultimately. he saw the fable's moral as a call for tolerance, not just tolerance for indulgent pleasures like chocolate but a deeper appreciation for the wide expanse of human foibles and quirks.

"To me, CHOCOLAT is a very funny fable about temptation and the importance of not denying oneself the good things in life." says Hallstrom. "It's about the constant conflict in life between tradition and change. And at its very center it is about intolerance and the consequences of not letting other people live out their own lives and beliefs."

Hallstrom was particularly intrigued by the story's multi-layered tone, which has the magical essence of a fairy-tale, yet presents a series of characters whose emotions and concerns — from marital mistakes to family dishonesties -- are palpably, often humorously, real. "I was interested in the broad range of elements in this story: the dramatic, comedic, at times farcical, the poetic, a comic fable that doesn't simplify its character portraits but is rooted in reality."

Hallstrom continues: "I think a noticeable common thread in all my movies is a fascination with depicting human irrationality in a

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