France’s Rezo spotlights U.S. indies

Shingle to handle worldwide rights to 'Cherry'

Continuing to offer an international springboard for edgier American fare, Gallic shingle Rezo is handling worldwide rights outside North America to “Cherry,” the directing debut of U.S. novelist Stephen Elliott.

ICM is repping North American sales rights.

In a further key pickup, Rezo has taken international rights to “Xingu,” produced by Fernando Meirelles O2 Filmes.

“Cherry” stars Ashley Hinshaw, James Franco, Heather Graham, Lili Taylor and Dev Patel. Pic follows a woman’s experiences in the porn industry in San Francisco. Graham plays a porn director, Franco a cocaine-addicted lawyer.

Screenplay is by Elliott, known for books such as his drug and angst memoir “The Adderall Diaries,” and adult industry vet Lorelei Lee.

“?’Cherry’ challenges assumptions about porn, sexuality, and success, and faces the difficult question of where you need to be in order to find yourself,” said Sebastien Chesneau, Rezo’s head of international.

“Xingu” is an adventure biopic of the Villas Boas brothers, who created Brazil’s first national park. Brazil’s Cao Hamburger, whose “The Year My Parents Went on Vacation” was a sales hit for Films Distribution at 2007 Berlin, helms. It proved a high-profile attraction at December’s Ventana Sur.

“Cherry” and “Xingu” both unspool in the Panorama Special. Sundance hit “Frozen River,” “Magic Valley,” “The Yes Men Fix the World” and Liza Johnson’s “Return,” a Focus World and Dada Films U.S. release, all figure among Rezo’s U.S. pickups for international.

Rezo also uses Sundance to drive sales: Chesneau says he is “very confident” of closing Italy and Japan, the only outstanding key territories on Julie Delpy’s Chris Rock-starrer “2 Days in New York,” off the film’s North America pickup by Magnolia at Sundance.

“The closure of studios’ speciality labels has left a gap in the market that we can fill,” Chesneau said.

That said, Rezo’s policy is to handle “different films for different distributors.” That list includes such pics as Jean-Francois Laguionie’s animated feature “Le Tableau,” which receives its international premiere at Berlin; and Amit Gupta’s World War II fiction drama, “Resistance,” with Andrea Riseborough.

Teaming last year with Luxembourg’s Iris Group to create Rezo Finance, a 50/50 financing vehicle aimed at putting up minimum guarantees for distribution and world sales, Rezo can come to the table offering French distribution, production, international sales — or a combo.

One of the first Rezo Finance-backed films, Jean-Paul Lilienfeld’s psychological drama “Arretez-moi,” starring Sophie Marceau as a self-confessed murderer and Miao-Miao as the policewoman who takes her confession, will be introduced to buyers in Berlin.

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