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M-Appeal Snaps Up Yury Bykov’s Locarno hit ‘The Fool’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Produced by Russia’s Rock Films, movie, which hits out at corruption in Russia’s housing system, a critical, audience standout at Swiss fest

LOCARNO – Berlin-based sales-production co M-Appeal has snapped up world sales rights to Yuri Bykov’s “The Fool,” one of the biggest hits at this week’s Locarno Fest.

A buzz-title among sales agents and distributors at Locarno’s Industry Days since it bowed in Locarno’s Intl. Competition and Industry Days over the weekend, sparking multiple offers of interest, “The Fool” continues M-Appeal’s relationship with Bykov and Rock Films after it handled sales on his Cannes Critics’ Week player “The Major.”

Playing off its relationship, M-Appeal has now finalized negotiations for “The Fool,” which Rock Films has already sold to Benelux (September Film Rights) and Switzerland (Trigon Films).

Also written and edited by Bykov, “The Fool” stars Artem Bystrov as an honest plumber who makes the “foolish” mistake of following through on his concern when, called out to mend a burst water pipe in a 38-year-old apartment building house with 800 occupants, he realizes the whole edifice could cave in at any moment.

The plumber interrupts the local mayor (a much-praised turn by Natalya Surkova) at 2 a.m. at her 50th birthday party, populated by local fat cats, begging her to evacuate the building. But kickbacks and other corruption run so deep that the mayor has nowhere to put the block dwellers. Anyway, her bottom-line is protect herself and her fellow corruption-sodden and sozzled bureaucrats from charges of skimming public housing system funds.

Popular on Variety

“After playing Cannes with his previous feature, ‘The Major,’ writer-director Yury Bykov delivers another major work, this one even more deserving of international attention, in festivals and commercial venues,” Variety’s Peter Debruge wrote at Locarno in his review, calling “The Fool” “Kafka meets ‘The Sopranos’ as Bykov creates a murky yet absurdist world of deep secrets and unmarked graves.”

“Yury is one of the most talented young film makers in Russia today,” said M-Appeal managing director Maren Kroymann. “We admire his work for its combination of a unique artistic vision, thoughtfulness and social criticism. We are happy to have Yury’s new film in our line up and to continue our collaboration with him and Rock Film.”

“Locarno’s impact has been very good: Yury has already got a great prize – a standing ovation and the tears of people after the public screening and Q&A. After the press and industry screening, and rave reviews, the producers understood that the international potential of the film is much wider than we thought,” said Rock Films’ Olga Aylarova.

“We are so glad to have closed the deal with M-Appeal on international rights before the end of the festival, and thankful to the Locarno Festival for the platform it gave to our film and the good start of its international life.”

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