Road movie depicts war in the Ukraine
PARIS — Paris-based production-sales house Luxbox has boarded Vanessa Paradis-starrer “Frost,” the next feature from Lithuania’s Sharunas Bartas, one of Eastern Europe’s classic auteurs whose “Peace to Us in Our Dreams” was selected for Cannes Directors’ Fortnight in 2015.
Launched in late 2015 by Fiorella Moretti and Hedi Zardi, Luxbox will represent international sales on “Frost.” The pick-up comes as Bartas is gaining greater recognition with a career retrospective at the Pompidou Centre last year and a film, “Peace to Us in Our Dreams,” which saw him travel the world as it hit the fest circuit.
While “Peace” was a work of introspection, “Frost” looks, on paper at least, to be more expansive, packing a larger narrative thrust and the highest-profile star in Bartas’ career. Co-produced by France’s KinoElektron and Reborn Production, Lithuania’s Studija Kinema, Insight Media/Tato Film in the Ukraine and Poland’s Donten & Lacroix, ‘Frost” turns on Rokas, a young Lithuanian who, intent on understanding war and hence his people, boards a humanitarian convoy bound from Lithuania to the Ukraine. Falling in with two war reporters, one a woman (Paradis), he is plunged into the turmoil of war where, the film’s synopsis suggests, “the trio will be forced to overcome their psychological limits and build a strong relationship. They do not agree upon anything, except for their wish to be where they are, each of them for their own reasons.”
“Frost” co-stars young theater actor Mantas Janciauskas and Poland’s Andrzej Chyra, star of Andrzej Wajda’s Academy Award nominated “Katyn.”
‘Frost” began its production, shooting for two weeks on the Ukraine-Crimea border in December. Lead producer Janja Kralj (“These Are the Rules”) at KinoElektron, who also produced “Peace to Us in Our Dreams,” called “Frost” “an ambitious road-movie under the snow through Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine, all the way to the border of the war-zone” and “a unique trip in today’s Ukraine.”
“We are deeply proud to follow Sharunas Bartas’ work and to be involved at this early stage in his new and ambitious cinematographic experience,” added Luxbox co-CEOs Moretti and Zardi, predicting that “Frost” will provide a “unexpected insight into the battlefields of the Ukraine” and “an engaging glance at contemporary Europe’s wars and conflicts.”
Dedicated to representing singular arthouse films from around the world – and “Frost” promises just that given Bartas’ preference for suggestion to dialogue, often stunning cinematography and portraits of sorrow, despair and loss – Luxbox’s sales slate includes “By the Time It Gets Dark,” the second feature by Thai director-writer-producer Anocha Suwichakornpong, inspired in part by the 1976 Thamassat University student massacre; Swiss Michael Koch’s debut feature “Marija,” about a Ukrainian cleaner in Switzerland wiling to pay pretty well any price to achieve her dreams; and “Jeanette,” the new film from veteran Bruno Dumont, which will be ready for delivery in 2017.
Driving into world cinema titles, Luxbox has seen considerable festival success: “Hedi,” the debut of Tunisia’s Mohamed Ben Attia, won the 2016 Berlinale’s Best Actor (Majd Mastoura) and Best First Feature Award. “Mimosas,” the second feature from Spain’s Oliver Laxe, took Cannes Critics’ Week Grand Prix last year.