Cannes Deals Keep Coming

In spite of what has been, so far, a rather quiet deal making season at the Cannes Film Festival, there have been a significant number of announcements made. With only a few days more before the industry begins to leave in droves, there could be more last minute announcements added to these. For the most part, the awards that will be announced on Saturday evening do not really generate a buying frenzy. Winners of the top prize at Cannes are notorious box office no-shows in the United States (with last year’s THE ARTIST being a notable exception). With so much product on tap in the official Festival sections, the non-official sidebars and the parallel Film Market, here are a few of the titles that are making headlines.

Gael Garcia Bernal

Sony Pictures Classics has 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. “This movie is a masterfully engaging and energetic drama about politics and power, a tonic for the brain that is also a major entertainment,” SPC said in a statement. “NO establishes Pablo Larrain as a major international director and Gael Garcia Bernal gives his finest performance.” 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 also 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 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. The new film is a blend of fact and fiction built from footage the filmmaker shot at a hotel on the Mekong River for a project that was never finished. The Thailand-set film involves his actors rehearsing the story of a vampire-like mother and her daughter. Both films will be released later this year.

Pierre Auguste Renoir Self Portrait

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.

Anchor Bay Films has picked up rights to all English-speaking territories for two action movies, OFFICER DOWN and PAWN, both of which screened at the Cannes Film Market. OFFICER DOWN, directed by Brian A. Miller, follows a rogue police officer who, in order to pay back old debts, seeks revenge against the men responsible for a young woman’s death. Stephen Dorff, David Boreanaz, Stephen Lang and James Woods star. PAWN, directed by David A. Armstrong, centers on a petty robbery that spirals into a hostage situation after three gunmen hold up a diner that’s a front for the mob. It stars Michael Chiklis, Common, Marton Csokas, Sean Faris, Stephen Lang, Ray Liotta, Nikki Reed, and Forest Whitaker.

Entertainment One has bought North American rights to the Norwegian action-adventure film ESCAPE from sales group TrustNordisk. The period action movie is from Norwegian director Roar Uthaug, who helmed the successful Nordic horror franchise COLD PREY. The actioner is set in Europe in 1363, in a land torn apart by the plague. Half the population is dead and the other half are fighting to survive. The film, which is currently in post-production, will bow in Norway on September 28.

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