Competition films wait for U.S. sales

'Parents,' 'Hallam Foe,' 'Axe' expected to close deals

Berlin festival chief Dieter Kosslick will have to wait a few more days for the endorsement that comes with high-profile sales of his Competition choices.

None of the non-U.S. studio pics in Competition were picked up by U.S. distributors other than France’s “La Vie en Rose,” which was long ago acquired by Picturehouse.

The U.S. buyers had packed their bags and left by Friday, and in any case no further business would be done until after the Presidents Day holiday Feb. 19.

But several foreign sales agents seem confident that after Tuesday deal memos with American buyers will get signed.

France’s Films Distribution has a deal pending Stateside for Brazilian pic “When My Parents Went on Vacation,” and is also entertaining offers for “Lost in Beijing.”

British seller Independent Films said it is in final negotiations with Hollywood studio labels and independents, leaving it confident of a deal on “Hallam Foe” by “early next week.”

Les Films du Losange’s Daniela Elsner said she was “very confident” of closing for Jacques Rivette’s “Don’t Touch the Axe” within days. Ditto per sales agent Match Factory for “Yella” and Pyramide for “Irina Palm.”

Celluloid Dreams said it is in “active negotiations” for Francois Ozon’s festival closer “Angel,” which is in English. Its other Competition title, “Goodbye Bafana,” from Bille August, already involves Paramount, which has a few international territories, but doesn’t involve the U.S. Dismal press reactions are unlikely to speed the process, though the subject matter, Nelson Mandela, has clear interest.

As is usual, pattern of sales favors those which screened early in the fest. In many cases, those with later bows were screened privately.

That was the case of “Desert Dream,” “Axe” and “Lost in Beijing.” For the late films, sellers now await press reactions that will either endorse or confound the views that the U.S. buyers took home.

Few mentioned Berlin honors as a determining factor in deal negotiations, though several execs gave the impression that they were waiting by the phone for news from the Berlinale jury about the Bears.

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