Nearly a year after his Disney ouster, Peter Rice has reemerged.
26.05.2023 - 22:15 / variety.com
Christopher Vourlias XYZ Films has closed a raft of deals for Czech filmmaker Robert Hloz’s science-fiction feature “Restore Point,” which is part of the company’s recently launched New Visions slate of genre films. The film has been sold to Germany and Switzerland (Plaion); Scandinavia (NonStop); France (The Jokers); and Australia/New Zealand (Umbrella). Several other territories are in active negotiations, while XYZ is also confirmed to handle the U.S. release of the film. “Restore Point” is set in the year 2041, when the gaps in social and economic inequality have left the world on the brink. A breakthrough in science has given humanity the ability to bring victims of a violent crime back to life by backing up their brain every two days. This affords an ambitious young detective the opportunity to solve a case of a murdered couple when the restoration team is able to bring one of them back.
The film is directed by Hloz and produced by Jan Kallista. According to the production team, “Restore Point” is the first Czech sci-fi film in roughly forty years — a notable gap, they add, given the influence that Czech voices have had on the development of the genre. It was Czech author Karel Čapek who was the first to introduce the word “robot” to mean an artificial being in a play produced a century ago. The deals on “Restore Point” come at the tail end of a busy Cannes for XYZ, which launched its New Visions slate of genre films with Zarrar Kahn’s Pakistani-Canadian horror “In Flames,” which played in Directors’ Fortnight. The New Visions initiative is designed to spotlight bold new voices in world cinema. Other titles on the slate include the psychological thriller “Reckoner,” starring Christina Hendricks. “Restore Point”
Nearly a year after his Disney ouster, Peter Rice has reemerged.
Elsa Keslassy International Correspondent LevelK has boarded “We Have Never Been Modern,” a Czech period drama inspired by the true story of intersex people in the 1930’s. The film has been selected at Karlovy Vary and will be released in Czech Republic by Bontonfilm. The movie, which marks the feature debut of Matěj Chlupáček (“Zrádci”), follows Helena, who is about to have a baby with an affluent factory manager. All her illusions soon perish when the dead body of a newborn intersex baby is found in the middle of their factory. Helena needs to find out what happened there for the safety of her own child, but she runs into her own prejudices. “We Have Never Been Modern” stars Eliška Křenková (“Bird Atlas,” “Winter Flies”), Miloslav König (“Blood Kin,” “Little Girl Blue”) and newcomer Richard Langdon.Chlupáček, who also produced the film, said he “chose to tell the story of ‘We Have Never Been’ because it communicates current and important topics, such as the position of women in society and the true story of intersex people, through an understandable genre concept of a mysterious detective drama, originally set in the 1930s Europe.”
Leo Barraclough International Features Editor International sales house Totem Films has closed distribution deals in multiple territories for “Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry,” which had its world premiere in Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes. The company also closed a deal for France for another Directors’ Fortnight film, “A Song Sung Blue.” “Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry” was sold to France (Capricci), U.K. (New Wave), Benelux (Vedette), Sweden (Folkets Bio), Greece (Ama Films), Czech Republic (Artcam), and Germany (Eksystent). More deals are in negotiation. The distributor in Switzerland is Frenetic. The film, directed by Elene Navierani, centers on Etero, a 48-year-old woman living in a small village in Georgia. Etero never wanted a husband and cherishes her freedom as much as her cakes. But her choice to live alone is the cause of much gossip among her fellow villagers.
Leo Barraclough International Features Editor The 37 national film institutes that are members of European Film Promotion have elected a new EFP board of directors at the general assembly on May 23 during the Cannes Film Festival. The board consists of seven members, with their term of office lasting for two years. Five of the current members remain on the board, including Simone Baumann, managing director of German Films, as new vice president, Daniela Elstner, executive director UniFrance, Eda Koppel, head of marketing at Estonian Film Institute, Stine Oppegaard, manager, international relations, feature films, Norwegian Film Institute, and Markéta Santrochová, head of Czech Film Center, who has been re-elected as EFP president.
Patrick Frater Asia Bureau Chief Recently-established Philippines-based production and financing company, Fire and Ice, has deals to provide completion funding to two films being produced by prolific Singapore-based independent producer Potocol. Under a related agreement, Fire and Ice has also struck a multi-faceted first-look deal with Potocol. The completion funding, which gives Fire and Ice a share of the film’s equity, will permit the completion of post-production of upcoming Potocol titles: “Pierce,” a sports drama by Nelicia Low, and “Last Shadow at First Light,” by Nicole Midori Woodford. Both films were recently showcased at Focus Asia’s Far East In Progress, part of the Far East Film Festival in Udine, and are expected to be completed before the end of the year.
K.J. Yossman “Deal or No Deal” is returning to Spain after a 12-year hiatus with original host Jesús Vázquez, Variety can confirm. The long-running gameshow, known locally as “¡Allá tú!,” is set to air on local network Telecinco, produced by Banijay Iberia label Gestmusic. Vázquez originally presented the show from 2004-2008. The re-commission follows the news that “Deal or No Deal” is also returning to the U.K. later this year on ITV and ITVX, produced by Banijay U.K.’s Remarkable Entertainment.
Eight feature documentaries and eight short docs have been selected as finalists for the 16th Doc Alliance Awards, presented by the Doc Alliance – the association of European documentary festivals.
EXCLUSIVE: Simon Rex is set to star and executive produce Operation Taco Gary’s with Michael Kvamme writing and directing. Matthew Vaughan & Rotten Science will produce the pic.
Leo Barraclough International Features Editor Kirsten Niehuus, CEO at Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, which funds films and TV series production in the Berlin region, and Simone Baumann, managing director of German Films, which promotes and supports the release of German films abroad, welcomed a wide array of guests to their garden party at the Cannes Film Festival on Saturday. Three Medienboard-funded films are in this year’s Competition: Tunisian director Kaouther Ben Hania’s “Four Daughters,” Austrian filmmaker Jessica Hausner’s “Club Zero,” and U.S. helmer Wes Anderson’s “Asteroid City.” Niehuus told Variety: “Those are three very different productions, but it shows the spectrum [of films] that Medienboard supports.” Tunisian films, like “Four Daughters,” need international co-production funding to get made, she said, and “we believe in world cinema, so were very happy [to back it].” Hausner is “one of the most impressive female filmmakers [in the world], and I think there should be more female filmmakers on the Croisette and every other ‘A’ festival,” she said. “Asteroid City” is “the best of American arthouse filmmaking; very stylish, with a great narrative – so we love it,” she said.
Ed Meza @edmezavar Norwegian distributor Fjong Film has picked up Hilmar Oddson’s award-winning Icelandic dark comedy “Driving Mum.” While French-U.K. sales and production company Alief has already sold the film widely in Europe, the Norwegian deal marks its first sale in Scandinavia. The Tallinn Black Nights Grand Prix winner, a theatrical hit in Iceland and Estonia, follows aimless protagonist Jon (Þröstur Leó Gunnarsson), who, grappling with immeasurable grief, finally comes of ripe age while fulfilling his mother’s (Kristbjörg Kjeld) final wish. Fjong Film CEO Nina Tryggvadottir, who was born in Iceland, connected with the unconventional road movie, acquiring all rights for the title.
Christopher Vourlias XYZ Films has acquired North American sales rights to “StayOnline,” from Ukrainian director Anton Skrypets, which uses the innovative Screenlife format to tell the story of a young Kyiv woman who risks her life to help a boy whose parents have gone missing after the Russian invasion. “StayOnline” was co-written by Skrypets and Eva Strelnikova, who also served as director of photography. It was produced by Marina Kvasova and Alla Lypovetska of the Organization of Ukrainian Producers (OUP). The film begins when a young woman volunteering in Kyiv is given one of the thousands of laptops donated by ordinary Ukrainians to support the war effort. She’s asked to install a sensitive military application and deliver the laptop to her brother serving on the frontline.
Leo Barraclough International Features Editor Flawless, XYZ Films and Tea Shop Productions have acquired the Cannes Critics’ Week selection “Vincent Must Die” for all English-speaking territories from Goodfellas. Flawless, the pioneering film technology company and a leader in the field of visual translation, recently announced it has launched a partnership with XYZ Films and Tea Shop Productions to acquire rights to foreign-language films, converting them to English for distribution in relevant markets. Directed by Stéphan Castang, “Vincent Must Die” is written by Mathieu Naert, produced by Thierry Lounas and Claire Bonnefoy, and stars Karim Leklou and Vimala Pons. In the film, an ordinary man finds himself fighting for his life after he goes out one day and is mysteriously attacked by random strangers in the street with the intent to kill him.
Leo Barraclough International Features Editor Beta Cinema has closed the first deals on tragicomedy “One Last Evening,” the inventive debut feature film from up-and-coming German director Lukas Nathrath. The Munich-based sales agency discovered the film at the Locarno Film Festival last year, where it screened in the Works-in-Progress section, and took the main prize, the First Look Award. The film has been sold to Filmwelt for Germany and Austria, September Film for Benelux, Aurora Films for Poland and Discovery for the former Yugoslavian territories. “One Last Evening” (“Letzter Abend”) draws a poignant and humorous portrait of Generation Y. The film, which is set during the pandemic, centers around a dinner party hosted by a young couple as they prepare to move from Hanover to Berlin.
Naman Ramachandran Classic cult film streamer Cultpix has struck a deal with Polish cultural institution WFDiF – Documentary and Feature Film Studios (Wytwórnia Filmów Dokumentalnych i Fabularnych) for a season of Polish erotic cinema classics from the 1980s and early 1990s. Titles featured in the season include Krzysztof Nowak’s “What Do the Tigers Like: (1989); Andrzej Barański’s “Bachelor Life in a Foreign Country” (1992); Roman Załuski’s “Och Carol” (1985); Ryszard Ber’s “Thais” (1983); Marek Koterski’s “Porn” (1990); and Jacek Bromski’s The Art of Loving (1989). The deal was revealed at the ongoing Cannes film market, where Cultpix expanded deals with previously signed film libraries – Germany’s The Playmaker Munich, as well as Echelon Studios and Vinegar Syndrome from the U.S. – for over 250 titles to be released later in 2023 and in early 2024.
Hong Sang-soo shows no signs of slowing down, does he? After two feature films a year for the past two years, the South Korean director will do it again in 2023, with his 30th film, “In Our Day,” ready to close the Directors’ Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival on May 25. Hong’s latest comes after “In Water” premiered at the Berlinale in February to universal acclaim.
Leo Barraclough International Features Editor Paris-based company Indie Sales has closed further sales on “Richard the Stork 2,” and expects to sell the last remaining territories during the Cannes Film Market. The film, also known as “Richard the Stork and the Mystery of the Great Jewel,” is a follow up to “Richard the Stork” (released in North America as “A Stork’s Journey”), which was widely distributed in 155 countries and grossed more than $20 million worldwide. Indie Sales, which sold Oscar nominee “My Life as a Zucchini” to more than 80 territories, is increasingly focusing on acquiring big budget animation.
Films Boutique has closed multiple territory deals on Agnieszka Holland’s “The Green Border,” which just completed principal photography in Poland. The film has been sold to Condor (France), September Films (Benelux), Movies Inspired (Italy), Leopardo Filmes (Portugal), MCF Megacom (former Yugoslavia), Kino Swiat (Poland) and AQS (Czech Rep./Slovakia). “The Green Border” tells the story of a family of Syrian refugees, a solitary English teacher from Afghanistan and a young border guard, all of whom meet on the Polish-Belarusian border during the most recent humanitarian crisis triggered by Belarus’ president Alexander Lukashenko, who opened the country’s doors to migrants as a back door to enter the EU.
Leo Barraclough International Features Editor Global Screen has closed further presales for “Lassie — A New Adventure,” the sequel featuring the most famous dog in the history of cinema. The film, directed by Hanno Olderdissen, has sold to A Contracorriente for Spain; ADS Service for Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Moldavia; Turkey’s Bir Film; GPI for the Baltic states; Bulgaria’s Pro Films; Karantanija for ex-Yugoslavia; and Greece’s Zinos Panagiotidis. Poland and Benelux are in negotiation. Sales were previously concluded with Lucky Red (Italy), AB Svensk Filmindustri (Scandinavia) and Film House (Israel).
Elsa Keslassy International Correspondent Catherine Corsini, an outspoken queer activist and co-founder of France’s feminist organization 50:50, should have been celebrating her new film’s inclusion in the competition lineup of the Cannes Film Festival. Instead, she found herself in the middle of a firestorm after “Homecoming,” her coming-of-age story, failed to get the proper government approvals for a scene of a sexual nature involving two minors. Corsini admits that mistakes were made. But she says that she took every effort to protect her young actors from being exploited. That scene, which was eventually cut from the movie, became the object of wild rumors, which Corsini said are false, “crazy, completely out of control.” “I’m hallucinating at things I’m reading, accusing me of having forced Esther to do a blowjob or masturbate herself,” she said.
Elsa Keslassy International Correspondent The last love of Franz Kafka, the celebrated Czech author of “Metamorphosis,” will be portrayed in romantic drama “The Glory of Life.” TrustNordisk has boarded international sales ahead of Cannes, while Majestic is handling the domestic rights. Currently shooting, “The Glory of Life” is directed by Georg Maas (“Two Lives”) and is inspired by the love story between Kafka and Dora Diamant. The period drama was penned by Michael Gutmann and Maas. Producers are Helge Sasse and Solveig Fina for Tempest Film and Tommy Pridnig for Lotus Film. Kafka and Diamant met in 1923 on the Baltic Sea coast, a year before the author died from tuberculosis. The worldly wise Diamant, who was working in a Jewish community, took him to Berlin, and as Kafka’s health deteriorates rapidly, they traveled together to a sanatorium in Austria. The memory of their time together will shape Diamant for the rest of her life.