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 AndrĂ©e 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.


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