AFM: France’s Wide Drives Into Euro Arthouse Genre with ‘Cruel,’ ‘Homesick’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Large AFM slate led by ‘Margarita With a Straw’

Acquiring international sales rights to “Cruel” and now “Homesick,” Paris-based sales company Wide is driving into European genre/arthouse as it builds up to the American Film Market where one flagship title is Toronto Festival hit “Margarita With a Straw,” among a total 12 films screening between Wide and Wide House.

“I think the AFM could be the right place for a film such as ‘Margarita with a Straw,’ at a market where distributors are not so interested in classic arthouse but could be interested in a film which is a mix of arthouse and entertainment,” said Wide prexy Loic Magneron of “Margarita With a Straw,” helmed by Shonali Bose and produced by Ishan Talkies, Viacom18 Motion Pictures and Jakhotia Group.

Another Wide slate standout, “The Lesson,” directed by Kristina Grozeva and Peter Valchanov and a recent Brazil pick-up by Providence, last month won San Sebastian’s New Directors Prize, one of the Spanish fest’s top plaudits. Among recent sales deals, Wide has closed a five-pic sale with U.K.’s Matchbox, including Simone Scafidi’s Italian sex scandal tale “Eva Braun, which was also sold, to Germany’s Tiberius Film, along with Brian Perkins’ “Golden Kingdom,” about four Buddhist novices,  in a previously reported deal.

France’s Optimale has acquired Jacky Katu’s “4 48,” about a young French actress unable to step back from her latest role.

Docu label Wide House is also near to finalizing deals for the U.S. and Japan on “Finding Gaston,” also screening in Santa Monica and a post-Toronto pick-up, which won San Sebastian’s prestigious Culinary Zinema: Film and Gastronomy section last month.

Drawing positive reviews at its Busan Festival world premiere – HAPS called it a “poignant and powerful study” – French-language “Cruel” marks the feature debut of crime novelist and short-filmmaker Eric Cherrière.

A film noir, according to Cherriere, “Cruel” plumbs the dark crevasses of the adult mind via Pierre (Jean-Jacques Leite), who lives in France’s lovely country city of Toulouse, cares lovingly for his father, an Alzheimer’s sufferer, is unemployed or a part-time worker, and a serial killer. Yearning for the lost paradise of childhood, he kidnaps his victims, whom he serves coffee to, gaining not only power but a vicarious life by proxy, vidcaming their descriptions of their daily existence. When he initiates a tender real-life relation with a woman, he gets his own life, no longer needs to kill, or so it seems.

“Cruel” has no gore. “Bloodshed, mutilation, torture: I wanted to avoid all that with ‘Cruel,’” Cherrière said. The crafted cinematography ranges from utilitarian dark to rich-palate records of the Toulouse countryside. In other words, this is a film that mixes arthouse elements with the tension of a killer thriller.

In Santa Monica, Wide’s Loic Magneron will also introduce buyers to a second genre-auteur picture, Austrian Jakob M. Erwa’s “Homesick,” an psycho-thriller in the vein of Roman Polanski’s “The Tenant,” Magneron said. Financed through a mix of private investors and crowd-funding, psycho-thriller “Homesick” turns on an ambitious young cellist (Esther Maria Pietsch) who, practicing for hours for an international competition, notices her neighbors increasing prying.

“It’s tense, atmospheric, very well directed and with excellent cinematography” Magneron commented.

“Cruel” and ”Homesick” also correspond to a new productions line Magneron would like to develop: “Psychological thrillers, thrillers, horror films from Europe, independent films with arthouse styles, films that can attract younger audiences but work in the classical arthouse business, that can appeal to classical distributors, broadcasters and new digital markets.”

In “The Man in the Orange Jacket,” “if you take out the 15 minutes of real thriller-horror you have an incredible arthouse film talking about social issues,” he added, pointing out that the film had veen selected for Canada’s Fantasia, played the Cult section at the BFI London Film Festival and will now screen at more arthouse festivals.

Acquired by Wide House right after Toronto, the social-issue themed “Finding Gaston” narrates Peruvian chef Gaston Acurio’s crusade to change Peru via his cuisine.

The Matchbox U.K. deal also includes Jerome Jacob’s World War II bunker paranormal chiller “The Cradle of Shadows,” Martin Makariev’s Bulgaria-set horror-thriller “Roseville,” Mikel Rueda’s Spanish across-the-tracks gay coming of age story “Hidden Away,” a recent TLA Releasing U.S. pick-up, and James Townsend’s horror-thriller-comedy ”Kissing Darkness.”

The Netherlands’ Artifilm has acquired “Wasp,” turning on a holiday love triangle which blossoms in the south of France.

Japan’s Crest Intl, has taken Jean Renoir’s 1936 classic, “A Day in the Country.”

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