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Berlin: XYZ Takes ‘Preservation,’ Directed by ‘Home Movie’s’ Christopher Denham

L.A. based producer/sales agent adds to strong Berlin genre slate

Adding to one of the most arresting slates of elevated genre titles heading into next week’s Berlin European Film Market, XYZ Films has acquired world sales rights to horror/thriller “Preservation,” from writer-director-actor Christopher Denham.

Wrenn Schmidt (“Boardwalk Empire”) Aaron Staton (“Mad Men”) and Pablo Schreiber (HBO’s “The Brink,” “Law & Order: SVU,” “Orange is the New Black”) comprise the key cast.

A sustained white-knuckler, “Preservation” turns on Wit (Schmidt), an anesthesiologist who sets out on a hunting expedition to a forest preserve with her husband (Staton), a hedge fund manager, and her ex-marine brother, Sean (Schreiber). When both are captured, Wit has to unleash her animal instincts to avoid being the next prey. Present Pictures’ Jennifer Dubin and Cora Olson produce; Certainty Fims’ Connie Cummings and Anne Renton exec produce.

Known as an actor for roles in “Argo,” which won him a SAG Award for ensemble performance, and “Shutter Island,” Denham’s directorial debut, “Home Movie,” won best new director at the Sitges Festival plus a Silver Audience Award at the Toronto After Dark Festival. He also co-wrote “Area 51,” Oren Peli’s follow-up as a director to “Paranormal Activity.”

“Chris has crafted a stylish and incredibly suspenseful piece of storytelling that takes the genre conventions and turns them inside out,” said XYZ Films.

“With memorable performances that stand out as some of the best we’ve seen in a long time, we’re proud to collaborate with such a clever filmmaker.”

Dubin added: “We’ve been fans of his script for a long time and are over the moon to have had the opportunity to produce this movie with Certainty Films.  We’re thrilled to partner with XYZ at this stage to bring this movie and Chris’ unique voice to the market.  We think it’s going to turn some heads.”

“Preservation’s” cinematographer, Nicola B. Marsh, also shot this year’s Oscar-nommed documentary “20 Feet From Stardom.”

At Berlin, XYZ Films will sell a mix of well-received Sundance titles – “The Raid 2,” “Killers,” which is co-directed by Timo Tjahjanto and Kimo Stamboel, and Sundance competition entry “Life After Beth” – plus two new acquisitions: Kevin Smith’s “Tusk” and Maori actioner “The Dead Lands.”

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