Shamim Sarif directs Cold War love story-suspense thriller with Charles Dance, Sam Reid, Oliver Jackson-Cohen
6 Sales has acquired world sales rights to Shamim Sarif’s classically styled love story-cum-suspense thriller “Despite the Falling Snow,” a Cold War tale of betrayal starring Rebecca Ferguson — about to explode on the world as Tom Cruise’s co-star in Christopher McQuarrie’s “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation.”
Paramount Pictures bows the fifth “Mission Impossible” worldwide on July 5. Demonstrating range, Ferguson (“The White Queen”) will also star alongside Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant in Stephen Frears’ upcoming “Florence Foster Jenkins,” in which she plays Grant’s long-suffering wife.
Linda Lichter of Lichter, Grossman Nichols & Adler represents North American sales. 6 Sales will screen “Snow” at the Cannes Film Market in its market premiere.
Produced by Hanan Kattan for London-based Enlightenment Productions and Sarif’s fourth feature, “Despite the Falling Snow” also stars Charles Dance, celebrated as Tywin Lannister in HBO’s “Game of Thrones”; Sam Reid (“Belle,” “Serena,” “The Railway Man”); German Ante Traue (“Woman in Gold”); and fast-rising Brit actor Oliver Jackson-Cohen, who began to cross over to the U.S. with NBC’s “Dracula.”
Set in Cold War Moscow over 1959-1961, against the background of the escalating Russia-U.S. arms race, as well as in an aseptically modern 1992 New York, “Snow” chronicles two people experiencing not only the full flush of the love of their life but also the crunch of huge ethical dilemmas whose resolution will test their humanity.
It centers on Katya (Ferguson), a Russian school administrator who falls for and marries Alexander (Reid), a rising government star, becoming a Kremlin wife. But she is also a spy for the U.S., bent on avenging her parents’ death in a Stalinist purge. When Alexander unwittingly closes the net around his own wife, she makes the ultimate sacrifice to protect him. Over 30 years later, as Lauren (also Ferguson), his artist niece, travels to post Soviet Moscow for an art exhibition, Alexander (Dance), now a successful New York businessman, may finally discover the truth about his wife’s disappearance as he defected to the U.S., an event which still obsesses him.
“’Despite the Falling Snow’ is a relatively rare film today, an epic love story which talks about betrayal, how people behave under the deepest political and emotional stress,” said Kattan.
It was shot in Belgrade to add production values and a sense of period sweep. “We wanted the snow and the scope of Cold War Moscow, and also the contrast between the opulent surroundings of the Kremlin elite versus most people,” she added, saying that the film targeted 20-plus audiences, “intelligent men and women who enjoy literary adaptations from books, intelligent movies with a strong narrative and classic storytelling.”
“Classic cinema lovers will find their film in ‘Despite the Falling Snow.’ There is a lack of classical thrillers with grand love stories in the market: This film fills that gap,” added 6 Sales head Marina Fuentes.
Co-produced by SK Enlightenment Films Canada, “Despite the Falling Snow” was adapted by Sarif from her own 2004 novel of the same name, which won upbeat reviews, the Independent reviewer acclaiming it as the novel of the year.
Sarif’s sophomore outing, “The World Unseen,” a period drama set in 1950s South Africa, world premiered at the Toronto Festival and won 23 international awards including 11 South African Film Awards.
Per Kattan, coin for “Despite the Falling Snow” was raised from a British EIS tax shelter and via U.K. tax credits.