'Attila Marcel,' 'Ida,' 'Under the Skin,' 'Exit Marrakech' generating buzz at film festival
With his live-action debut, French animation auteur Sylvain Chomet has transposed the offbeat charm, singular characters and richly layered visual style of his Oscar-nommed hand-drawn toons, “The Triplets of Belleville” and “The Illusionist,” to “Attila Marcel.” A passion project for Chomet — who also penned the screenplay — the musical comedy stars French up-and-comer Guillaume Gouix as a traumatized orphan who gets help from a mysterious woman using herbal medicine and music. Anne Le Ny (“The Intouchables”) and Bernadette Lafont (“Paulette”) play eccentric twin sisters who raise him.
Budgeted at €8 million ($10.7 million), the film is repped by French mini-major Pathe and produced by Claudie Ossard (“Amelie”) at Paris-based Eurowide Film Prod. Pic’s crew includes art director Stephane Cressend (“Now You See Me”) and production designer Carlos Conti (“On the Road”).
It has pre-sold to Australia, Benelux, Brazil, France, Greece, Israel, New Zealand, South Korea and Switzerland.
— Elsa Keslassy
International sales: Arri Worldsales
German director Caroline Link won the Oscar for foreign-language pic with “Nowhere in Africa,” which centered on a Jewish family who flee Nazi Germany for Kenya in 1938. Her latest film, “Exit Marrakech,” again looks at the interaction of Europeans and Africans, this time in Morocco.
It follows 17-year-old Ben (Samuel Schneider) as he travels to Marrakech to visit his estranged stage-director father, played by Ulrich Tukur (“The White Ribbon”). After he falls out with his father, the young man sets out on his own and becomes entranced by Marrakech and a beautiful young woman (Hafsia Herzi from “The Secret of the Grain”).
“Like a fresher, contemporary Paul Bowles story, ‘Exit Marrakech’ offers a glimpse of what can happen when a Westerner is confronted with the radically unfamiliar,” says Toronto fest topper Cameron Bailey.
— Leo Barraclough
International sales: Fandango
Polish-born British helmer Pawel Pawlikowski, who broke through with “Last Resort” in 2000, and earned good notices with “My Summer of Love” (2004) and “The Woman in the Fifth” (2011), lenses his first film in his native Poland with “Ida,” a black-and-white drama about a young Roman Catholic nun in 1960s Poland who discovers she is Jewish. Pic world preems in Toronto’s Special Presentation section. Toronto’s Piers Handling describes “Ida” as “one of the most powerful and affecting films of the year.”
Handling adds, “This film is impeccably executed and judged, achingly written, finely structured and eloquently shot.”
Eric Abraham, who won an Oscar with Jan Sverak’s “Kolya” in 1996, produces alongside Piotr Dzieciol and Ewa Puszczynska.
— Leo Barraclough
“Under the Skin” (pictured)
International Sales: FilmNation
Jonathan Glazer’s “Under the Skin” marks one of the most anticipated European pics to unspool at the Toronto fest this year. It’s been nine years since the helmer’s chiller “Birth” and 13 years since his acclaimed debut, “Sexy Beast.” Dedicated auds have been buzzing for years about the pic, which is penned by Walter Campbell and adapted from Dutch-Scottish writer Michael Faber’s novel, even though there were reports some audience members booed the film at its Venice world premiere.
“Under the Skin” sees Scarlett Johansson topline as an alien who preys on men. Pic marks one of the last films to be funded by the U.K. Film Council, which was axed in 2010, and additionally is backed by Film4. FilmNation rep international sales for the pic and commenced pre-sales at AFM in 2010. Nick Wechsler and James Wilson produce.
“ ‘Under the Skin’ has probably impressed me more than any other film in the last 12 months,” says BFI Film Fund director Ben Roberts. “It’s really remarkable filmmaking that rewards and wakes you up in the middle of the night.”
— Diana Lodderhose