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All the Dead Ones: A Golden Bear hopeful for Indie Sales

CINEUROPA February, 12 | Fabien Lemercier

The French sales agent is pinning its hopes on the Berlin competition title by Brazil’s Caetano Gotardo and Marco Dutra as well as on the Panorama-screened documentary Days of Cannibalism.

French international sales agent Indie Sales will be able to boast a jam-packed line-up of 12 titles at the European Film Market of the 70th Berlinale (20 February-1 March). Standing out in particular is a feature that will be vying for the Golden Bear: All the Dead Ones by Brazilian duo Caetano Gotardo and Marco Dutra (Special Jury Prize at Locarno in 2017 for Good Manners [+]). The movie, which has been produced by Brazilian outfit Dezenove Som e Imagens together with France’s Good Fortune Films (Clément Duboin and Florence Cohen), will have its official world premiere on Sunday 23 February.

The story, written by the pair of directors, kicks off in 1899, shortly after slavery has been abolished in Brazil. After the death of their last house slave, the three women of the Soares family are at a loss in the rapidly expanding city of São Paulo. The family, which once owned coffee plantations, is now on the brink of ruin and struggling to adapt. At the same time, the Nascimento family, who used to work as slaves on the Soares’ farm, now find themselves adrift in a society in which there is no place for recently freed black people. Interestingly, the cinematography was entrusted to Hélène Louvart (Alice Rohrwacher’s regular collaborator, who also turned heads last year for her work on The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão [+]).

At Berlin, the Indie Sales team headed up by Nicolas Eschbach (who will be aided by Florencia Gil) will also have high hopes for the documentary Days of Cannibalism by US helmer Teboho Edkins, which will be unveiled in Panorama. Produced by France (Janja Kralj for KinoElektron) together with South Africa (Days Zero Films) and the Netherlands (Keplerfilm), the movie delves deep into Africa, to the western-like landscapes of today’s Lesotho, where modern pioneers of capitalism clash with local traditions, and aspiring Chinese merchants compete for supremacy with traditional Basotho cattle breeders.

Indie Sales will also be topping up the sales of Our Lady of the Nile [+] by Atiq Rahimi, which was first revealed at Toronto and will have its European premiere at the Berlinale, in the Generation section.

Standing out among the movies being pre-sold (and currently in post-production) are On a Half Clear Morning by Bruno Dumont (see the article – a promo-reel of which will be unveiled at the EFM), Dead & Beautiful by Dutch director David Verbeek (a vampire flick set in an Asian megalopolis – a production by Lemming Film together with Taiwanese outfit House on Fire International) and the doc Bigger Than Us by Flore Vasseur (which follows seven young activists hailing from all over the world, and which is being produced by Marion Cotillard via the company All You Need, together with Big Mother Productions and Elzévir Films). And that’s not to mention the animated feature Calamity by France’s Rémi Chayé (Long Way North [+]), which is currently in production. A promo-reel of this film will also be available to watch.

Lastly, Indie Sales will be organising market-premiere screenings of Adventures of a Mathematician by Thor Klein (see the article), Welcome to the Jungle by Hugo Benamozig and David Caviglioli (toplined by Vincent Dedienne and Catherine Deneuve – see the article), Man Up! [+] by Benjamin Parent (see the article), Fishlove by Olivier Babinet (see the news) and Enormous [+] by Sophie Letourneur (which premiered at Rotterdam).

As a reminder, Indie Sales’ Belgian subsidiary, Best Friend Forever, will also be hard at work at the EFM, showcasing several strong titles (see the article).

Indie Sales Boards Animated Feature ‘The Crossing’ About Children Refugee (EXCLUSIVE)

VARIETY February 11, 2020 | Elsa Keslassy

Indie Sales, the Paris-based company which sold the Oscar-nominated “My Life as a Zucchini” around the world, has come on board Florence Miailhe’s “The Crossing,” a timely, hand-painted animated feature shedding light on children refugees.

Written by Miailhe, along with the popular children’s book author Marie Desplechin, “The Crossing” is a contemporary tale exploring the plight of hundreds of thousands of youths who live on the road or in precarious environments with or without their parents. As with “My Life as a Zucchini,” “The Crossing” revolves around children overcoming difficult situations, and addresses an adult audience.

The French company has acquired international sales to “The Crossing” and will start representing the project at Berlin’s European Film Market later this month. “The Crossing” will make the feature debut of Miailhe, who previously directed several critically acclaimed animated shorts, such as the Cesar-winning “A Summer Night Rendez Vous” and “Urban Tale” which won the Special Jury Award in Cannes in 2006.

“The Crossing” centers on a family who is forced to flee their small village which is looted in
darkness. The film follows the heroic journey of the two oldest children, Kyona and Adriel, as they face the road of exile alone, driven by the hope that they will find refuge in a free world at last.

“This exceptional film is the perfect illustration of the power of great art to impact an audience’s perspective on a very important worldwide crisis – the plight of migrant children who are left to fend for themselves – a situation which is increasingly dire,” said Eleanor Coleman, the head of animation and new media acquisitions at Indie Sales.

Coleman praised Miailhe for her “exceptional technique and voice,” as well as “unique storytelling potential (which are) pushing the boundaries of artistic beauty and possibility”.

Veteran film executives and Indie Sales’s co-founder Nicolas Eschbach, said the company’s track record with My Life as a Zucchini” “illustrates the strong international potential that author driven animation has when it
respects distributors’ needs and expectations.”

Eschbach said animated arthouse films like “The Crossing” had the potential to fare well in today’s market as long as the “budget, the commercial potential and the targeted audience match the ambition and assets of the creative team.”

Adult-skewing animated films dealing with contemporary social and political issues have proven popular within festival circuits, as well as in theaters. Recent examples include the Indie Sales-repped “Another Day of Life,” which world premiere as a special screening at Cannes. The movie is set against the backdrop of the 1975 Angolan civil war.

“The Crossing” was pitched at Cartoon Movie last year, after being presented in the work-in-progress session at Annecy in 2018. It will also be back at this year’s Cartoon Movie event. “The Crossing” was produced by Les Films de l’Arlequin, Balance Films, XBO Films and Maur Film. “The Crossing” will be released this Spring in France by Gebeka Films.

Indie Sales boards Berlin Panorama title ‘Days Of Cannibalism’ (exclusive)


Paris-based Indie Sales has acquired world sales rights to Teboho Edkins’ documentary Days Of Cannibalism ahead of its premiere in the Berlinale’s Panorama Dokumente section. 

Shot in the southern African country of Lesotho, the work explores the impact of the arrival of a wave of Chinese entrepreneurs on its rural communities, which traditionally made their living from cattle farming.

Edkins, who describes the feature as a “contemporary documentary western”, captures the simmering tensions as forces of capitalism challenge the old order and traditions.

“Teboho managed to film people whose lives are deeply reshaped by globalisation but with enough distance to leave open the question whether it’s a tragedy or a story yet-to-be written,” said Indie Sales Clément Chautant.

US-born, South Africa-raised Edkins, who is the son of respected documentary filmmaker and producer Don Edkins, was previously at the Berlinale in 2015 with documentary Coming Of Age which screened in the Generation 14plus section.

The new documentary was produced by Janja Kralj at Paris-based production company KinoElektron. French sales and distribution company Jour 2 Fête co-produced the film and will release it in France later this year. Kralj’s previous credits include Ben Russell’s Good Luck and Sharunas Bartas’s Frost.

The production won a string of development and post-production awards which helped bring it to fruition including the inaugural Dutch €50,000 post-production award of the International Film Festival Rotterdam’s Pro Industry section in 2019.

Indie Sales is also handling Brazilian Golden Bear contender All The Dead Ones by Caetano Gotardo and Marco Dutra for which it has released a new image [pictured]. Gotardo and Dutra previously collaborated on Locarno jury prize winner Good Manners.

The production crosses between period drama and genre, depicting the decline of a family at the end of 19th century in the quickly developing São Paulo, from the point of view of female characters.

Gotardo and Dutra reunited with producers Sara Silveira’ Dezenove and Clément Duboin’s Good Fortune Films on the production. Jour 2 Fête will release the film in France while Vitrine Filmes will handle it in Brazil. 

Indie Sales is also selling Atiq Rahimi’s Our Lady Of The Nile which will get its European premiere in Berlinale Generation after world premiering in Toronto last year.

Indie Sales to Show New Film with Catherine Deneuve, Four More Movies at UniFrance RDV (EXCLUSIVE)

VARIETY January, 15 | Elsa Keslassy

Paris-based company Indie Sales will head to the Paris-set industry showcase UniFrance Rendez-Vous With French Cinema with five anticipated French movies, including “Welcome to the Jungle” with Catherine Deneuve.

The other titles are the comedies “Enormous” and “Man Up!,” as well as the ecological tale “Fishlove” and the drama “Under the Concrete.” All five films will be having their market premieres at the Rendez-Vous which kicks off Jan. 16.

Co-directed by Hugo Benamozig and David Caiglioli, “Welcome to the Jungle” stars Deneuve as possessive mother and renown ethnologist who sets off to rescue her beloved son, a young and naive anthropology researcher, in the Amazonian jungle. The adventure comedy also stars Vincent Dedienne (“The Rose Maker”), Jonathan Cohen (“Budapest”) and Alice Belaïdi (“Odd Job”).

“Enormous” is wacky romantic comedy directed by Sophie Letourneur and starring Marina Foïs (“Polisse”) as a world-renowned pianist whose pregnancy turns into a nightmare. Foïs stars opposite Jonathan Cohen (“Family Business”). The film will have its international premiere in competition at Rotterdam and will be released in France by Memento Films Distribution.

“Man Up!,” meanwhile, marks Benjamin Parent’s feature debut and follows his short “This is Not a Cowboy Movie” which won a prize at Cannes’s Critics Week in 2012. The film stars the up-and-coming actor Benjamin Voisin (“Summer 84”), along with Isabelle Carré (“Marie’s Story”) and Laurent Lucas (“Raw”). 

Voisin stars as a Tom, a sensitive teenager who is about to enter a new high school after being expelled and is being mentored by his controlling older brother, Leo. Produced by Delante, “Man Up” was recently released by Ad Vitam in France and garnered warm reviews.

Directed by Olivier Babinet, “Fishlove” is set on the French Atlantic coast in the near future and is headlined by Gustave Kervern (“Saint Amour”) and India Hair (“Bloody Milk”). The sea has become infested with jellyfish since fish can no longer reproduce. Daniel Luxey is a biologist in charge of solving this mystery and is also obsessed about the idea of becoming a father. “Fishlove” is produced by Comme des Cinéma and Tarantula, and will be released in France by Rezo.

“Under the Concrete” is French-Lebanese director Roy Arida’s first feature. The film takes him back to his homeland and follows a young salesman who gives up his meaningless routine in chaotic Beirut and sets off to break the world diving record. “Under The Concrete” was produced by Stank.

Indie Sales will also be continuing sales on Atiq Rahimi’s “Our Lady of the Nile” ahead of its presentation at the Berlin Film Festival in the Generation section. The film had its world premiere at Toronto.

Indie Sales’s current slate also includes the Brazilian period drama “All The Dead Ones” by Caetano Gotardo and Marco
Dutra; Bruno Dumont’s “On a Half Clear Morning” starring Léa Seydoux; as well as the documentary “Bigger
than Us” by Flore Vasseur and executive produced by Marion Cotillard.

Film Review: ‘Our Lady of the Nile’

VARIETY September, 5 2019 | Mark Keizer

A straightforward adaptation of Scholastique Mukasonga’s 2012 novel that effectively details the ethnic tensions that would lead to the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Rwanda-born writer Scholastique Mukasonga’s 2012 novel “Notre-Dame du Nil” is not specifically about the 1994 Rwandan genocide but rather how class division, colonialism and economic disparity created a toxic stew of resentment and prejudice that made the genocide possible. By using a Rwandan all-girls Catholic boarding school as her microcosm, she lays out how the seeds of ethnic hatred were planted, nurtured and encouraged to blossom. Still, any adaptation of Mukasonga’s book holds the promise of being that long-awaited great film about the country’s ethnic strife and how it exploded into a historic bloodbath that saw members of Rwanda’s Hutu majority slaughter 800,000 of their countrymen, mostly members of the Tutsi minority, in only three months.

If “Our Lady of the Nile” is ultimately not the definitive telling of the genocide, it is something equally valuable: the tragedy’s illuminative prequel, a straightforward origin story faithfully adapted from an essential text. For potential North American distributors, it’s a roll of the dice for this film that premiered at the 2019 Toronto Film Festival. Foreign moviegoers who mostly know this far-away horror from 2004’s Oscar-nominated “Hotel Rwanda” should nevertheless appreciate the striking sense of authenticity of this never-too-late refresher on the genocide’s underpinnings. Those with unfair expectations of Hollywood-sized histrionics and fist-shaking displays of indignity will come away deservedly disappointed.

Mukasonga, who lost 27 family members, including her mother, in the genocide, attended a Rwandan lycée much like the one depicted in her novel. In his film adaptation, Afghan-born director and co-screenwriter Atiq Rahimi (“The Patience Stone”) drops us right in the middle of a busy 1973 at Notre-Dame du Nil, and leaves us to get a handle on things. The girls, in their matching white blouses and butterscotch-colored pants, are mostly from rich Hutu families. The school enforces a 10% cap on Tutsi student admissions, although some Tutsis are allowed to attend the school in excess of the quota, much to the annoyance of some Hutu girls. The school is considered a top-flight institution of “good Christians” where the girls are groomed to become the “country’s female elite.” Their quotidian tasks include planting vegetables, straightening out the archives and cleaning the statue of the Virgin Mary that rests on a hill overlooking the river.

Rahimi and Ramata Sy’s screenplay adaptation is an honorable and mostly successful attempt to cover as much social, cultural and historical ground as possible. The cruel treatment of unmarried pregnant girls, the continued reliance on witch doctors and the contradictory teachings of science and religion are covered to varying degrees of length and effectiveness to suggest Rwanda’s uneasy mix of pagan and modern cultures. This might leave less-informed viewers in a bit of a lurch, as with the character of Fontenaille (Pascal Greggory). A creepy European holdover who lives on a local plantation, Fontenaille is dedicated to ensuring the Tutsis regain their dignity in the belief they are aristocratic descendants of the black pharaohs. While the non-sexual motivations of this oddly drawn character are never quite believable, Fontenaille insists his only interest in Tutsi student Veronica (Clariella Bizimana) is sketching her.

Any story about demonizing The Other can’t help but remind us of the anti-immigrant sentiment currently roaring through Europe and the United States. Rahimi, however, doesn’t outwardly encourage the drawing of contemporary parallels and while that might deny the movie a ripped-from-the-headlines appeal, the root causes of the Rwandan genocide are so ill-served in film that he’s justified in allowing them to stand on their own. The main ethnic agitator here is Gloriosa (Albina Sydney Kirenga), a Hutu student who chafes at the Tutsi-looking nose on the Virgin Mary statue they’re always asked to clean. So with reluctant partner Modesta (Belinda Rubango Simbi), she climbs the shrine in the middle of the night to give it a “Rwandan nose, a majority nose.”

When they succeed only at ripping the nose off the statue before falling into the mud, Gloriosa invents a story of bravely fending off an attack by a Tutsi gang, which triggers the military to step in to protect the students. With her supposedly courageous exploits making the newspapers, Gloriosa’s bubbling Tutsi animosity explodes into a desire for a full-on ethnic purging of the school.

Rahimi coaxes fine performances from his actresses, many of whom are non-pros, while editor Hervé de Luze (Polanski’s “The Pianist” and Rahimi’s “The Patience Stone”) wisely resists the urge to cut the final act of bloodletting like an action thriller. Top marks go to cinematographer Thierry Arbogast, whose visuals are so lush you want to reach out and touch the leaves on the trees. When the story pauses to allow a group of girls to billow their white dresses and dance beneath the steel-gray sky, it’s not only a breathtaking moment; it makes you mourn for a beautiful, verdant land that’s destined to be the site of one modern history’s most barbaric mass slaughters.

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