Films Boutique Acquires Wajda’s ‘Walesa’ (Exclusive)

Biopic plays at Venice, Toronto fests

LONDON — Berlin-based world sales company Films Boutique has acquired world rights to Andrzej Wajda’s “Walesa, Man of Hope,” which premieres in Venice out of competition, before screening at the Toronto Film Festival.

The film depicts 20 years in the life of Lech Walesa, the leader of the Polish trade union Solidarity and the country’s first post-Communist president. It follows him from the bloody repression of the workers’ protests by the Communist authorities in 1970, through the creation of Solidarity in 1980, to Walesa’s speech at the U.S. Congress in 1989, opening with the words: “We, the people…”

Films Boutique’s CEO Jean-Christophe Simon said: “We always found the story of Lech Walesa to be universal and very inspiring for the audience: if a simple worker can turn into such a charismatic leader, resisting the Communist authorities, and change the world the way he did, then anything can happen.”

Wajda commented: “Walesa is the most difficult subject I have ever dealt with in the 55 years of my film career, but I just don’t see any other director making a movie about Lech Walesa that I would find satisfying. The movie is addressed to everyone, but I’d especially like to reach the younger audiences, as Walesa is a good example to convince them that they should participate in our political life.”

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Wajda will receive the Persol prize at Venice, which celebrates a “legend of international cinema.”

Fest kudos won by Wajda include the special jury prize at Cannes for “Kanal” in 1957, the international critics’ award at Venice for “Popiol i diament” (Ashes and Diamonds) in 1958, and the Palme d’Or at Cannes for “Man of Iron” in 1981.

Four films by Wajda were nommed for a foreign-language pic Oscar: “The Promised Land” (1975), “The Young Girls of Wilko” (1979), “Man of Iron” (1981) and “Katyn” (2007), which won the Golden Globe.

Wajda was awarded the Berlin Golden Bear for lifetime achievement in 2006, the Golden Lion for lifetime achievement at Venice in 1998, and an Oscar for lifetime achievement in 2000.

“Walesa” was produced by Michal Kwiecinski for Akson Studio.

Films Boutique will also handle sales on the debut film by French fashion designer Agnes B: “My Name Is Hmmm.” Starring Sylvie Testud, Jacques Bonnaffe and the artist Douglas Gordon, the film will premiere in Venice Horizons before having its North American premiere at the New York Film Festival. The film’s score has been composed by Jean-Benoit Dunckel from the band Air, and also includes songs by U.S. band Sonic Youth.

Films Boutique will also handle sales on the Georgian black comedy “Blind Dates” by Levan Koguashvili, which will premiere at the Toronto Film Festival. The film tells the story of two 40-year-old single friends trying to meet girls and find love online. The film won Karlovy Vary Film Festival’s works in progress award.

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