01 June, 2012

More Cannes Deals

by Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

The Indomina Group has acquired U.S. distribution rights to French director Leos Carax's HOLY MOTORS, one of the strangest and most divisive films to screen in the main competition at this year's Cannes Film Festival. The wildly experimental film drew scattered boos but also wild enthusiasm when it screened midway through the festival. The chronicle of a man who spends a day riding around town in a limousine, seemingly changing identities as he goes, the film stars Michel Piccoli, Denis Lavant, Eva Mendes and Kylie Minogue. “Leos Carax is a masterful filmmaker," said Indomina Chairman and CEO Jasbinder Singh Mann in a release announcing the acquisition. "His unique, singular vision is something that cannot be overlooked in today’s marketplace. The film really stays with you after you’ve left the cinema – a testament to not only a brilliant story but amazing direction and performances." Indomina was launched in 2008 and is based in Los Angeles and in the Dominican Republic. It is involved in the production and distribution of motion pictures, television, music and interactive games, and relies heavily on a transmedia approach.

Magnolia Pictures had picked up the U.S. distribution rights for THE HUNT, the latest film from Danish dogme director Thomas Vinterberg. The film, which screened in the competition section at the Cannes Film Festival, won a Best Actor prize for its lead, Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen. In the film, he stars as an ordinary man who fights against a lie of child abuse that threatens to destroy his life. Written by Vinterberg and Tobias Lindholm, the film also won the Ecumenical Jury Award. The film is slated for a late year release, with a considerable campaign to be put in place to push for a Best Actor nod from the Oscars for Mikkelsen’s dynamic performance. Eamonn Bowles, President of Magnolia Pictures, commented in a release that “Thomas Vinterberg demonstrates his directorial mastery in his finest work since THE CELEBRATION and Mads Mikkelsen's performance more than validates his Best Actor Award at Cannes."

Oscilloscope Laboratories has acquired U.S. rights to Italian director Matteo Garrone's REALITY, a film in the Cannes main competition about a Neapolitan fishmonger whose life is turned upside-down when he thinks he's going to appear on a reality-television show. The film went on to win the Grand Prix award at the Festival and generated a good amount of controversy once it was learned that its lead Aniello Arena is a convicted felon who is serving a life sentence for murder. Apparently, the untrained actor was allowed to film during the day provided he returned to his prison cell each evening. While there was buzz that he would be allowed to walk the red carpet or attend the award ceremonies, that never materialized. In a release announcing the acquisition, Oscilloscope's David Laub called the film "a complex, provocative, and deeply compelling look at our media-obsessed culture, executed by one of the most interesting and talented filmmakers working today. Garrone pays homage to classical filmmakers such as Fellini and Scorsese while crafting a fresh and very relevant contemporary story." The director’s previous film GOMORRAH (2008), a blistering drama of the continuing influence of the Mafia in the social fabric of Italy’s southern provinces, was a major international arthouse hit. Oscilloscope plans to showcase the new film at additional festivals throughout the fall, and to follow with a theatrical, DVD and digital release in 2013.

Sundance Selects has had a busy buying season at the Cannes Film Festival. The company, a specialty arm of IFC Films, has acquired some of the Festival’s most notable titles. Its latest pickup is SOMEONE IN LOVE by Iranian director and former Palme d’Or winner Abbas Kiarostami. The film, which made its world premiere in competition last week at the Cannes Film Festival, is an homage to classic Japanese films of the 1950s  and 1960s that emphasized humanistic stories and minute detail in a hypnotic observational style…..clearly an influence for the director in his own oeuvre. Starring Rin Takanashi, Tadashi Okuno and Ryo Kase, the new film explores the sudden relationship of a young woman and old man in Tokyo. Sundance Selects has also acquired the domestic rights to Ken Loach’s rare comic farce THE ANGELS’ SHARE. The film chronicles Robbie, a Scottish youth trying to avoid prison, who sneaks into a maternity hospital to visit his girlfriend and newborn son. This marks the fourth time Loach and Sundance Selects have worked together. One of those projects, THE WIND THAT SHAKES THE BARLEY, won the Palme d’Or and was the most successful of Loach’s films at the U.S. domestic box office. Earlier in the Festival, IFC Films/Sundance Selects acquired another Cannes title, the adaptation of the Jack Kerouac beat novel ON THE ROAD, directed by Walter Salles, and was represented at the Festival with previous acquisitions BEYOND THE HILLS by Romanian New Wave auteur Cristian Mungiu, American indie title GIMME THE LOOT by Adam Leon, the Stanley Kubrick documentary ROOM 237 by Rodney Ascher and the buddy comedy SIGHTSEERS by Ben Wheatley.

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