On the Lido to introduce Pablo Larrain’s Venice competition player “Post Mortem,” Paris-based sales company Funny Balloons has announced a slew of major territory deals on “Benda Bilili!”
The documentary has been acquired for France (Sophie Dulac Distribution), U.K. (Trinity Filmed Entertainment), Germany (Kool Filmdistribution), Japan (Plankton) and Korea (Baekdu-Daegan).
In other territories, Cineart has closed for Benelux, Xenix Filmdistribution for Switzerland, Folkets Bio for Sweden, AS Fidalgo for Norway and Feelgood Entertainment for Greece, Funny Balloons topper Peter Danner said in Venice.
Funny Balloons has licensed Romania to Independenta Film and Denmark to Rialto. Film Laden has bought Austria.
Directed by Renaud Barret and Florent de La Tullaye and co-produced by France Telecom-Orange’s Studio 37, “Benda Bilili!” opened Cannes Directors’ Fortnight in May.
It portrays a band drawn from the streets of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Many of the musicians have severe physical disabilities.
Barret and De La Tullaye paid for a studio recording by the band, called Staff Benda Bilili. It took five years to shoot the doc and for the recording to spark the band’s world tour.
“One critic wrote that if this was a fiction film, nobody would believe it,” Danner said. “It’s a feel-good movie. You leave the theater happy about these guys having made it. And it’s all true.”
Funny Balloons’ strategy is to establish longterm relationships with up-and-coming directors from around the world.
That’s underscored by “Post Mortem,” which is the second Larrain title handled by Funny Balloons. The first, “Tony Manero,” sold to 20 territories.