From the circus to the music hall, from anonymity to glory, the incredible story of ‘Monsieur Chocolat,’ is based on the life of Rafael ” Chocolat” Padilla – a former Cuban-born slave, who became the first black artist of the French stage.
“Paris awaits you.” The duo he formed with Footit met with huge and popular success in Belle Epoque Paris, before fame, easy money, gambling, and discrimination wore out their friendship and Monsieur Chocolat’s career. The film retraces the remarkable story of Padilla who was born in Cuba in 1868 and sold into slavery at the age of 9. After escaping slavery, he traveled to Paris and launched a career in the circus, captivating the French with his talents as a singer and dancer, and as a clown, working under the stage name “Chocolat,” a term that, because of the roles he played, became slang for “ridiculed or abused.”
“I need someone like you to spruce up my number. “Need a Negro?” “A clown. To help me.” He did odd jobs in Spain, and eventually arrived in Paris and at the age of 18, he was discovered by Footit, a British clown who needed a partner. Rafael then joined the circus, where he was habitually cast in denigrating roles – like king of the monkeys, slave to Cleopatra, King of the jungle, etc.
“No more Fooit. I want to be taken seriously.” And it was there that he began to find himself. He died in on November 4, 1917. “Chocolat” was immortalized by the painter Toulouse-Lautrec in 1896.
Directed by Roschdy Zem, from a screenplay and adaptation by Cyril Gely (screenplay), Olivier Gorce (adaptation), alongside Omar Sy, the starring cast includes James Thierrée, Noémie Lvovsky, and Frédéric Pierrot. ‘Monsieur Chocolat’ will be released in select theaters in France January 19, 2017.
Source: YouTube, IMDb