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Berlin – Pyramide Intl. Rolls Out Pre-sales on ‘Leviathan,’ Russian Director Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Follow-Up to ‘Elena’

Julie Bertuccelli’s “House of Babel” also closes major markets

PARIS – Confirming its status as one of the arthouse sales hits of Berlin’s European Film Market last week, Eric Lagesse’s Paris-based Pyramide Intl. has struck a raft of pre-sales on “Leviathan,” Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev follow-up to “Elena.”

Pyramide Intl. has also closed major market deals on Julie Bertuccelli’s “School of Babel.”

Sold by Pyramide Intl. – and produced, like “Leviathan,” by Alexander Rodnyansky – Zvyagintsev’s “Elena” closed Cannes’ 2011 Un Certain Regard, winning its Special Jury Prize and selling to over 40 countries.

“In my opinion, Zvyagintsev is one of the ten most important filmmakers today,” said Lagesse, adding that “Leviathan” is bigger-budgeted than “Elena” and will be ready for Cannes.

Pyramide Intl. pre.sales on “Leviathan,” often with territories’ top art-house distributors, include major markets such as the U.K. (Curzon), Australia/New Zealand (Palace Ent.), Spain (Golem) and Brazil (Imovision).

Lumiere acquired Benelux, MCF-Megacom Film former-Yugoslavia, Seven Films Greece, Against Gravity Poland, Cineworx Switzerland, and Calinos Film Turkey.

Written by Zvyagintsev and Oleg Negin, and starring Alexey Serebryakov, Elena Lyadova and Vladimir Vdovichenkov, “Leviathan” works on multiple levels – as a modern retelling of Biblical parable, aesthetic entertainment, and a story that nails Russia’s endemic corruption.

It turns on Nikolai, dwelling in a small town near the Barents Sea, in North Russia, on a little bay where the whales sometimes enter.

When his corrupt local mayor tries to embargo Nikolai’s house, small auto-repair shop and lands, keeping them for himself. Nikolai calls in an old army comrade, now a hotshot lawyer, who determines the only way to fight back is to dig up dirt on the mayor.

‘A unique film for Andrey, “Leviathan” has his trademark visual style and narrative but it is also breathtakingly beautiful,” said Rodnyansky.

“Leviathan,” is a modern retelling of the Biblical story of Job and it is populated with amazing intricately developed characters that we can easily feel empathy for,” Rodnyansky continued.

“It deals with some of the most important social issues of contemporary Russia while never becoming an artist’s sermon or a public statement, it is a story of love and tragedy experienced by ordinary people and both stories are universal and will be appreciated by people around the world.”

Pyramide Intl.’s exhibited the first images of “Leviathan” at Berlin.

A return to documentary for Julie Bertuccelli, best-known for fiction features “Since Otar Left” and “The Tree,” starring Charlotte Gainsbourg, “School of Babel” records events at a French “reception” class for young immigrant children with very little knowledge of French.

Shot over a year at Paris’ Granges-Aux-Belles secondary school, screened at the Rome and Abu Dhabi Festivals, and a buzz title at the January’s Paris UniFrance Rendez-vous, “School of Babel” was well-reviewed, avoiding “gratuitous cuteness in favor of a more substantive focus on the struggles of international adolescents coping with the immigrant experience,” said a Variety review.  

Initiating sales, on “School of Babel,” Pyramide Intl. has sold the U.K. and Ireland to New Wave Films, Italy to Kitchen Film, Benelux to Les Films de l’Elysee and Switzerland to Agora Films.

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