30 May, 2012

Cannes Deal Report

by Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

While sales at this year's Cannes Film Festival seemed to be as soggy as the weather, some of the strongest titles to emerge from this year's event have found North American distribution and will be gracing theater screens in the months to come. Most significantly, the Palme d'Or winner AMOUR is expected to receive a big build up by specialty distributor Sony Pictures Classics, which will release the film amidst the end of the year awards season. It is expected that the film, the second to win director Michael Haneke the prestigious prize, will be a major player in the Academy Awards race, not only for Best Foreign Language Film, but possibly for Best Film and Best Director (and don't count out acting awards for its two veteran leads Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva).

Sony Pictures Classics has also said si to NO, picking up all North American rights to the Chilean drama starring Mexican heartthrob Gael Garcia Bernal. The film, directed by Pablo Larrain, premiered in the prestigious Directors’ Fortnight section. In the historic drama, based on a true story, Bernal plays an advertising executive who spearheads an ad campaign aimed at ousting Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. Sony Pictures Classics has also acquired all North American rights to Danish director Susanne Bier’s latest film, LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED, a romantic comedy set in Sorrento, Italy starring Pierce Brosnan, Trine Dyrholm and Paprika Steen. SPC  released Bier’s previous film, IN A BETTER WORLD, which won the Best Foreign Language Oscar. 

Strand Releasing has picked up U.S. distribution on two high profile films screening in the official sections at Cannes. The company has bought rights to Turkish/German director Fatih Akin’s documentary GARBAGE IN THE GARDEN OF EDEN, an eco-doc that charts the ecological disaster that has affected a Turkish village on the eastern shore of the Black Sea. The director, best known for his 2007 drama THE EDGE OF HEAVEN which won a Best Screenplay prize at Cannes that year, has not produced a strictly straightforward non-fiction film. He moves deftly between documentary realism and heightened fiction, to capture the villagers’ struggle to combat the polluted spillover from a newly built garbage dump in the hills above them. Strand is also reuniting with celebrated Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul, whose medium length essay film MEKONG HOTEL premiered this week as a special screening. The company worked with the director on the existential drama UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES, which won the Palme d’Or in 2010.

Thomas Vinterberg’s newest film THE HUNT has been picked up for US distribution through by Magnolia Pictures. The film won the Best Actor prize for its lead Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen.
Written by Thomas Vinterberg and Tobias Lindholm, the film tells the story of a man who fights against a lie of child abuse that threatens to destroy his life. The film also won the Ecumenical Jury Award. A late 2012 release in theaters and day-and-date VOD platforms is expected.

Samuel Goldwyn Films has acquired U.S. rights to RENOIR, a love story about 19th century French painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir, his son, film director Jean Renoir, and the young woman who inspired them both.  Based on a true story and starring Michel Bouquet, Vincent Rottiers and Christa Theret, RENOIR is set on the French Riviera in 1915, after Pierre-Auguste Renoir had lost his wife and his son had been wounded in battle in World War I. A young woman named Andrée becomes the painter’s last model, and also inspires the recovering Jean Renoir to become a filmmaker. The film will screen this weekend as the closing night attraction in the Un Certain Regard section. Goldwyn plans a spring 2013 release.

14 May, 2012

Toasting Noel Coward At Lincoln Center

by Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

Theater and film bon vivant Noel Coward would have loved his gilt-edged tribute at the Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York this weekend. COWARD ON FILM, which ran May 11 to 13, will run in conjunction with the ongoing citywide festival STAR QUALITY: THE WORLD OF NOËL COWARD, honoring the British playwright, actor, director and composer. The series will trace the breadth of his film work, which ranges from British silent and sound adaptations of his early plays to the later prestige productions of his works made in Hollywood. “I’m not very keen on Hollywood”, the great wit once quipped. “I’d rather have a nice cup of cocoa.” Among the highlights of the series are his two masterworks: IN WHICH WE SERVE (1942), one of the greatest war films ever made, which was written, scored and co-directed (with David Lean) by Coward, who also starred in the film; and BRIEF ENCOUNTER (1946), one of the great screen romances. “Noël Coward’s enormous gifts were spread across an extraordinary range of activities and media–from theater to film to acting to composing to singing”, FSLC Program Director Richard Peña commented. “We’re delighted to be part of this long-deserved tribute to this “one-man Lincoln Center,” presenting the best of his cinematic achievements.” For a complete schedule of films and events, visit:

09 May, 2012

Sony Pacts With Haneke

by Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

Sony Pictures Classics has acquired all North American rights to the latest film from Oscar nominee Michael Haneke. The Austrian director’s latest film AMOUR stars Jean-Louis Trintignant (Z, THE CONFORMIST), Emmanuelle Riva (HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR), and Isabelle Huppert (THE PIANO TEACHER, 8 WOMEN).  In the film, Georges (Trintignant) and Anne (Riva) are in their eighties. They are cultivated, retired music teachers. Their daughter (Huppert), who is also a musician, lives abroad with her family.  One day, Anne has an attack. The couple’s bond of love is severely tested. AMOUR will mark the third film between Haneke and Sony Pictures Classics.  The previous titles include CACHÉ and 2009 Palme d’Or winner THE WHITE RIBBON. “AMOUR once again confirms Michael Haneke’s place as one of the world’s finest filmmakers. American audiences are in for a moving experience”, the company announced in a statement.

08 May, 2012

Hommage To Werner Schroeter

by Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

The Museum of Modern Art in New York, in association with the Munich Film Museum and the Goethe-Institut New York, will present the first comprehensive North American retrospective of German film, theater, and opera director Werner Schroeter. The program, which runs from May 11 to June 11, includes 40 feature films and rare early experimental shorts, very few of which have had theatrical releases in the United States. Schroeter's filmic approach was extremely influential on his German contemporaries Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Rosa von Praunheim, Hans-Jurgen Syberberg, Daniel Schmid, Ulrike Ottinger, Wim Wenders, and Werner Herzog. He also worked with an eclectic group of acting talents including Isabelle Huppert, Bulle Ogier, Candy Darling, and his muse and superstar Magdalena Montezuma, from whom he drew some of their greatest performances. Inspired by the divas of silent-era cinema, Schroeter strove for an authenticity of feeling through extreme emotions, reaching a point, he said, of "musical and gestural excess." Mixing kitsch with high art, his visual exercises were intoxicating to the eye, ear and the imagination of the audience. For more information on the series, visit: