22 February, 2012
by Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor
Adopt Films, a new New York-based distribution shingle co-headed by former October Films founder Jeff Lipsky, had a veritable shopping spree at the recently concluded Berlin International Film Festival, where the newbie company, co-managed with Tim Grady, picked up U.S. rights to some of the Festival’s top award winners. The company announced pickups of CAESAR MUST DIE, the prison-set docudrama of inmates performing Shakespeare by Italian veterans Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, which was awarded the Berlin Golden Bear for Best Picture; as well as the rights to BARBARA, which won for its director, German wunderkind Christian Petzold, the Silver Bear as Best Director. Set in East Berlin in 1980, BARBARA is the riveting and compassionate story of a pediatric surgeon, whose desire to emigrate to the west has banished her to a small country hospital far from freedom. German actress Nina Hoss plays the lead role, marking her fifth collaboration with writer-director Petzold. Adopt Films plans to release both films at the end of 2012 and will mount an Academy Award campaign for the directors and their lead actors.
The company just announced yesterday that it has also acquired all U.S. rights to Ursula Meier’s SISTER, which world premiered in competition in Berlin last week. SISTERS stars Léa Seydoux and Kacey Mottet Klein as siblings struggling for survival amid the high-end ski resorts of the Swiss Alps. It was written was directed by Meier, who co-wrote the original screenplay with Antoine Jaccoud. “Few directors can effectively and effortlessly tell such an intimate story on such a vast and epic visual canvas," Adopt's Jeff Lipsky said of the film. This is a film that sends chills down your spine.” Adopt is planning a late 2012 theatrical release. The company is one of a few new distribution entities to emerge in the United States in the past six months. Not connected to major studios and not as flush with money as The Weinstein Company or Magnolia Pictures, this new development is good news for European cinema that could have fallen between the cracks and never received any kind of North American showcase outside of festivals.