Netflix Snaps Up Camera d’Or Winner ‘Divines,’ Cannes-Competing ‘Aquarius’

Divines Cannes Film Festival
Courtesy of Cannes Film Festival

CANNES — Netflix has acquired Houda Benyamina’s Camera d’Or winning directorial debut “Divines” and rising Brazilian helmer Kleber Mendonça Filho’s critically acclaimed sophomore outing “Aquarius.”

Set in a ghetto near Paris where drugs and religion reign supreme, Benyamina’s coming of age drama tells the story of Dounia, a teenager seeking power and success who enlists the help of her best friend to follow the footsteps of a respected dealer and comes across a sensuous young dancer who turns her life upside down.

“Divines” is the first feature film produced by Paris-based banner Easy Tiger. Films Boutique handled international sales.

“We saw ‘Divines’ before it was award-winning, praised by critics and received a standing ovation at Cannes. We immediately recognized it as an extraordinary film and acquired it early on,” said Ted Sarandos, Netflix CEO. “We’re passionate about bringing our members great films from around the world and thrilled to bring Benyamina’s debut film to our members.”

“Emotions bring people together and are a reflection of society. Thanks to Netflix, ‘Divines’ will cross borders, and the world will be able to enjoy this universal story of love and friendship,” said Benyamina.

“Divines” will be available later this year globally except in France, where the movie won’t hit the streaming service until 2019 because of France’s window release schedule, considered Europe’s strictest.

“Aquarius” tells the tale of a well-off and headstrong widow (played by vet actress Sonia Braga) who won’t let go of her apartment in spite of pressures from greedy developers. The film is also meant to portray the growing divide within Brazilian society, as Mendonça Filho suggested during the film’s press conference at Cannes.

“Aquarius,” which marks Mendonça Filho’s follow-up to his critically acclaimed debut “Neighboring Sounds,” is produced by Recife’s CineScopio, Said Ben Said’s Paris-based SBS Prods. and Michel Merkt. It’s set for an Oct. 17 release in France.

“Aquarius” will be on Netflix in North America, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, Latin America (outside of Brazil), and the U.K., with other regions to be confirmed.

Netflix has also acquired Sacha Wolff’s “Mercenary,” which world-premiered at Directors’ Fortnight. The film, sold by Brussels-based Be for Films, tells the story of Soane, a young man of Wallisian origin from New Caledonia, who defies his father’s authority to go and play rugby in France.

Other Netflix acquisitions include Jesper Nielsen’s “The Day Will Come” (sold by TrustNordisk), a 1960s-set Danish drama penned by “The Killing” writer Søren Sveistrup, about two brothers on a mission to escape a boys’ home, and Mir-Jean Bou Chaaya’s directorial debut “Very Big Shot,” a Lebanese comedy about two brothers who run a small drug-dealing business out of their takeout pizzeria in one of Beirut’s working-class districts.

Netflix has also picked up Anurag Kashyap’s Directors’ Fortnight player “Raman Raghav 2.0” (sold by Stray Dogs), about a serial killer fascinated by a 1960s psychopath and a policeman who wage a merciless battle against each other, and Sébastien Betbeder’s French comedy “Journey to Greenland” (sold by Cercamon), about a pair of of thirty-something struggling actors from Paris who decide to fly away to Kullorsuaq, a remote village in Greenland.

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