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Labadie’s Le Pacte Takes ‘Marshland’ For France (EXCLUSIVE)

Deal first big territory announced on early San Sebastian competition frontrunner

distribution-sales companies, has acquired all French rights to Alberto Rodriguez’s noirish period cop thriller “Marshland,“ an early competition favorite at San Sebastian.

Warner Bros. will release “Marshland” in Spain on Sept. 26.

Struck by Le Pacte and “Marshland’s” sales company, Vicente Canales’ Film Factory Entertainment, deal is the first major territory sale announced on “Marshland,” which world premiered Saturday at San Sebastian to score 7.2 out of 10, sufficient to make it, at least in Spanish critics eyes, one of the competition contenders at this year’s Spanish fest.

The fifth solo feature by Rodriguez – whose 2012 Seville narcotics squad chronicle “Unit 7” scored an appreciable €2.4 million ($3.15 million) at Spanish B.O., plus critical plaudits and foreign sales – “Marshland” is set in 1980, three years after Spain’s first general elections in 40 years, after Franco’s ruling establishment had agreed to relinquish formal political power on the condition of a “pact of silence” about former crimes, including mass executions, in and after the Civil War.

Two detectives, one a supposed Francoist hardliner, the other, younger, more pliable, with a bright future ahead of him in Madrid, are called in to investigate the disappearance of two teen girls on Seville’s flatlands, a sprawling marsh expanse of stunning natural beauty and base poverty ruled by a few families certainly not willing to give up their centuries-old power and privileges – economic, social or of droit du seigneur.

Produced by Jose Antonio Felez’s Atipica Films in Madrid and Gervasio Iglesias’ Seville-based Sacromonte, both longtime Rodriguez backers, plus Atresmedia Cine, the film production-distribution arm of broadcaster Atresmedia, “Marshland” reps a considerable step-up in artistic ambition for Rodriguez, packing 170, often brief, sequences, some multi-shot, some not. “Marshland” will be released theatrically spring/early summer in France on a minimum 80-100 copies, opening up the opportunity to expand and of screenings at French events such as at late March’s Beaune Thriller Film Festival, well attended by the French press, Labadie told Variety at San Sebastian.

The release will be coordinated with “Marshland’s” Benelux buyer, major arthouse distributor Cineart.

“I think the film will be a great, fantastic surprise in France,” said Labadie.

“Jean Labadie has been in the business for getting on 40 years. I’m sure he will dedicate passionate care to the film and create a name for Alberto in France,” Canales said at San Sebastian.

Starting in the business in 1978, launching in 1986 Bac Films, Miramax’s distributor in France, Labadie was forced out of Bac in 2006, going on to create Le Pacte. Via Le Pacte, Labadie distributes about 15-20 films a year, which are a mix of French and mostly other-European titles, cultivating long-term relationships with auteurs such as Nanni Moretti, Jim Jarmusch and France’s Arnaud Desplechin.

“Film Factory has received offers from all major territories for ‘Marshland,’ but we want to hold back at the moment,” said Canales.

“In ‘Marshland,’ The choice of every actor, first, second and third roles, is excellent, the car chase scenes, made with really lousy cars, one a Dyan, is magnificent, and the place is absolutely beautiful,” Labadie enthused.

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