CANNES: Underscoring the importance of the Cannes festival, both its market and selection, for foreign distributor buys, Antoine Zeind’s A-Z Films has acquired three 2016 Cannes Competition films: Cristian Mungiu’s “Graduation,” Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne’s “The Unknown Girl” and Cristi Puiu’s “Sierra Nevada.”
Based out of Quebec, Zeind’s distribution-production company has also taken “The Red Turtle,” which world premieres in Un Certain Regard.
Wild Bunch sells, finances and sometimes co-produces three of these titles: “Graduation,” “Girl” and “The Red Turtle.” “Sierra Nevada” is repped by Elle Driver, a Wild Bunch company, a sign of A-Z Films’ strong connection with France.
The latest from Mungiu, whose “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days” won Cannes’ 2007 Palme d’Or, the consecration of the so-called Romanian New Wave, “Graduation” is a father-daughter ethical drama turning on a small-town doctor’s ambitions for his clever daughter to win a scholarship outside Romania.
From Belgium’s Dardenne brothers, whose “Rosetta” and “The Child” both won Cannes Palme d’Ors, “The Unknown Girl” toplines Adele Haenel, one of France’s fastest-rising young stars (“Love at First Fight”), along with Dardenne regulars Jeremie Renner and Olivier Gourmet, in a story of a young doctor investigating the identity of a patient who died having been refused treatment.
Elle Driver repped, strained family reunion drama “Sierra Nevada” marks, remarkably, the Cannes competition bow of Puiu whose 2005 Un Certain Regard player “The Death of Mr, Lazarescu,” was one of the first modern Romanian features to catch large attention abroad.
Said Zeind: “I’m delighted for the filmmakers that these amazing projects that we’ve been following for over a year will finally be seen in competition in Cannes.”
Also remarkably, the long-awaited animated feature “The Red Turtle” marks the feature debut of the 62-year-old Michael Dudok de Wit, an Academy Award winner for his short “Father and Daughter,” as well as legendary Japanese Studio Ghibli’s first international co-production. Wild Bunch, which linked up Dudok and Studio Ghibli, and long sells and distributes Studio Ghibli films, again handles international licensing.
The four titles join upcoming releases such as “150 Milligrams,” from France’s Emmanuelle Bercot, who opened last year’s Cannes with “Standing Tall, and starring Sidse Babett Knudsen (“Borgen”) and Benoit Magimel, (“Marseille”), as well as the three-part life story “On the Milky Road,” directed by and starring Emir Kusturica, and Danny Boon’s comedy “Radin.” Wild Bunch sells “Road” and “Woman,” TF1 reps “Radin.”