Sofia Boutella and Brooklynn Prince in 'Settlers'
| Credit: Graham Bartholomew/IFC Films

Sofia Boutella's new sci-fi thriller Settlers may be set on Mars, but its themes feel particularly down-to-earth.

EW has an exclusive first look at the upcoming drama, centering on a family of refugees who've fled Earth and are now struggling to survive in a desolate Martian landscape. The film is writer-director Wyatt Rockefeller's feature debut, and Boutella stars as Ilsa, a mother trying to protect her 9-year-old daughter, Remmy, played by The Florida Project breakout Brooklynn Prince.

Settlers follows the family as they try to build a life in the harsh alien terrain, only to come face-to-face with mysterious strangers in the nearby hills. It's a futuristic drama set on a distant planet, but Boutella tells EW that when she first read Rockefeller's script, she was struck by how close to home it felt.

"I thought it had qualities that are very essential today, even though it takes place on Mars," the Atomic Blonde actress says. "It's very isolated, but it has scenes that are very concerning in terms of the environmental collapse that we could be headed towards, [and] it spoke about isolation and immigration."

Brooklynn Prince in 'Settlers'
| Credit: IFC Films
Ismael Cruz Córdova in 'Settlers'
| Credit: Graham Bartholomew/IFC Films

Boutella adds that she felt a particular connection to Prince's character, and she couldn't help but draw comparisons to her own childhood.

"That was something that came close to my heart being an immigrant — in a way twice, from Algeria to France and now living in Los Angeles," Boutella says. "I left [Algeria] with my family when I was 10 years old because there was a civil war there, and I remember knowing what was happening and being in an environment that was not where I came from, with children that were my age that didn't go through what I went through."  

The Settlers cast also includes Ismael Cruz Córdova, Jonny Lee Miller, and Nell Tiger Free, but Boutella says she found herself particularly bonding with her onscreen daughter, Prince.

"Every day was incredible on set with her," Boutella says of her 10-year-old costar. "She's very intuitive and sensitive. She's a kid, but I could very easily have mature conversations with her that I really appreciated."

Settlers is being distributed by IFC Midnight and will debut in select theaters and on digital rental/VOD on July 23.

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