PARIS– Kino Lorber has acquired all U.S. rights to Nabil Ayouch’s “Horses of God,” Morocco’s foreign-language Oscar entry, for U.S. distribution.
Produced by Zaza Films and Pierre-Ange Le Pogam’s Stone Angels, “Horses” world-premiered at Cannes’ Un Certain Regard. Wild Bunch handles international sales. WME, which repped the film in the U.S., negotiated the deal with Kino Lorber.
The Jamal Belmahi-penned drama, based on the 2003 bombing in Casablanca and inspired by Mahi Binebine’s “The Stars of Sidi Moumen,” chronicles the lives of four childhood friends from a slum who were recruited by fundamentalists and turned into suicide bombers.
Pic, which has enlisted the full support of Oscar-winner helmer Jonathan Demme, won various awards and earned warm reviews following its unspooling in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard.
“Jonathan Demme has been a champion of this film since he first saw it in Morocco and kindly brought it to our attention. We were immensely impressed by Nabil Ayouch’s filmmaking artistry, fusing sensitivity and brutality in this terrifyingly authentic portrayal of the making of a suicide bomber,” said Richard Lorber, CEO of Kino Lorner. “It’s a profoundly compelling work of cinematic fiction that reveals more truth than any news report.”
Lorber is planning a U.S. release in May, kicking off with a premiere at Film Forum. It will then expand across the country. Lorber also pointed out Ayouch will be a filmmaker in residence during the launch at the Jacob Burns Film Center in New York.
Variety’s Jay Weissberg praised the film for its “shantytown atmosphere of machismo, wounded pride and powerlessness, which collectively act as a petri dish for fanaticism.”
“By spending considerable time on milieu and the friends as kids, Ayouch sets his film apart, delineating personalities that avoid the cookie-cutter repetition seen elsewhere,” Weissberg wrote in his review.
To date, “Horses” has won top plaudits at 19 films festivals, among them the Golden Spike at Spain’s Valladolid Fest. “Horses’” won the Seattle Festival director and best director audience award this June, and recently nabbed France’s Lumiere (Gaul’s equivalent to the Golden Globes) trophy for best foreign film.
Ayouch, who is regarded as Morocco’s most sought-after director/producer of his generation, is now working on a science-fiction drama set in a futurist fresco of the Arab society.
Kino Lorber, the New York-based arthouse distribution shingle, recently acquired Sundance hit “52 Sundays,” a provocative docu by first-timer Sophie Hyde, as well as Serge Bozon’s comedy “Tip Top” with Isabelle Huppert.