Venice/Toronto: Films Distribution Says ‘Goodnight Mommy’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Paris sales agent takes rights to Ulrich-Seidl-produced genre film, plus ‘Tokyo Fiancee’

A genre connoisseur, Paris-based Films Distribution has swooped on world sales rights to “Goodnight Mommy,” an intriguing combination of an unnerving chiller and production by Austrian auteur Ulrich Seidl.

World premiering in Venice Horizons, “Mommy” will then segue to Toronto for its North American bow in the fest’s Vanguard section. Produced by Vienna’s Ulrich Seidl Filmproduktion, “Goodnight Mommy” also marks the fiction feature directorial debut of Veronika Franz, Seidl’s co-scribe in a collaboration which began with 2001’s “Dog Days,” and takes in 2007’s “Import/Export” and the “Paradise” movie trilogy. Franz co-directs “Goodnight Mommy” with Austrian Severin Fiala.

Set in the heat of the summer at an isolated modernist country house which starkly contrasts with the surrounding woods and cornfields, psychological horror film “Mommy” turns on two ten-year-old twins whose mother returns home grotesquely swathed in bandages after plastic surgery.

Stern and distant, she shuts herself off, pushing the twins’ to retreat into their own private world and fuelling their spiraling suspicions that this monster-looking person is not their mother.

Popular on Variety

“Goodnight Mommy” is elevated theatrical genre, said Films Distribution partner Nicolas Brigaud-Robert.

“It resonates on that universal fear that maybe all of us have had as children that our parents are not our parents but have been replaced by strangers,” he added, noting that the film had a “Sixth Sense” twist.

Franz and Fiala co-directed docu-feature “Kern,” a portrait of Peter Kern, the outsized and cantankerous Austrian director-actor.

Also new to Film Distribution books: “Tokyo Fiancee,” which has been selected for Toronto’s Contemporary World Cinema. Belgian Stefan Liberski’s tale centers on a whirlwind romance between Amelie, a 20-year-old Belgian girl who returns to Japan where she spent her youth, and her first and only French-language student Rinji.

Adapting Amelie Nothomb’s European bestseller of the same English-title, and narrating the surprises, delights and pitfalls of culture shock as Amelie discovers Rinji and Japan, and Rinji Amelie and French culture, “Tokyo Fiancee” marks Liberski’s third feature after 2010’s “Bunker Paradise” and last year’s “Baby Balloon.”

“’Tokyo Fiancee’ is a charming Eric Rohmer-like film, a fish-out-of-water tale that work on minutia, details, the small things of life, somewhat reminiscent of Julie Delpy’s movies in the way Liberski draws very well female characters, and puts them in awkward situations,” Brigaud-Robert commented.

In a sign of French sales agents’ continued lock on a huge number of the more significant arthouse, genre, crossover and niche titles being produced in and outside France, Films Distribution’s Toronto line-up features a further six titles, three from French helmers.

These include François Ozon’s anticipated “The New Girlfriend,” which world premieres as a Gala Presentation; Pascal Ferran’s “Bird People,” “Gett, the Trial of Viviane Ansalem,” from Israel’s Ronit and Schlomi Elkabetz, Celine Sciamma’s “Girlhood” and Belgian Lucas Belvaux’s “Not My Type,” all selected for Contemporary World Cinema.

“Magical Girl,” the buzzed-up second film of Spain’s Carlos Vermut, world premieres in Toronto’s Discovery sidebar.

More Film

  • My Name is Baghdad

    Reel Suspects Acquires Berlinale Generation Title 'My Name is Baghdad' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Reel Suspects has acquired international sales rights to Caru Alves de Souza’s coming-of-age tale “My Name is Baghdad,” which will world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival in the Generation 14 section. The film was produced by Manjericão Filmes and Tangerina Entretenimento. It follows a 17-year-old female skater named Baghdad who lives in a working-class [...]

  • My Salinger Year

    Berlin Film Festival to Open With Sigourney Weaver, Margaret Qualley Starrer 'My Salinger Year'

    The 70th edition of the Berlinale will open with Philippe Falardeau’s anticipated “My Salinger Year,” headlined by a powerful female duo, Sigourney Weaver and Margaret Qualley. Set in New York’s literary world in the 90’s, the coming-of-age story is based on Joanna Rakoff’s international bestseller and follows Joanna (Qualley), who leaves graduate school to pursue [...]

  • Bad Hair

    'Bad Hair': Film Review

    The year is 1989 and New Jack Swing is about to push black culture from the margins to the mainstream. The question for the black employees of Culture, the music TV station at the center of writer-director Justin Simien’s delightfully macabre horror-dramedy “Bad Hair,” is what image do they — and their white executive Grant [...]

  • Bad Hair

    Justin Simien's 'Bad Hair' is a Tribute to Exploited Black Women Everywhere, Director Says

    Deeply personal but indulgently campy, Justin Simien’s Sundance opener “Bad Hair” is a genre-blending horror show that the director said serves as a tribute to the struggles of black women. The mind behind  “Dear White People” staged the world premiere for the project at Park City’s Ray Theater on Thursday night, before a cast that [...]

  • Taylor Swift: Miss Americana

    'Taylor Swift: Miss Americana': Film Review

    Fly-on-the-wall portraits of pop-music stars used to be dominated by, you know, pop music. The life and personality and woe-is-me-I’m-caught-in-the-media-fishbowl spectacle of the star herself was part of the equation, yet all that stuff had a way of dancing around the edges. Now, though, it’s front and center. In “Taylor Swift: Miss Americana,” we catch [...]

  • Taylor Swift attends the premiere of

    Sundance Crowd Goes Wild as Taylor Swift Becomes Powerful Voice of Trump Resistance

    At the outset of the first screening of the documentary “Miss Americana” Thursday night at the Sundance Film Festival, it was clear at the outset that it was not necessarily Taylor Swift’s core audience filling the Eccles Theater for the premiere. The opening scene has Swift trying to write a song at the piano while [...]

  • wanda Imax China

    China Closes Thousands of Theaters in Response to Coronavirus Outbreak

    China closed swathes of cinemas on Friday in response to the outbreak of novel coronavirus, which started in the city of Wuhan and has now killed 26 people. The closures come a day after the distributors and producers of the seven major blockbusters that had expected to launch from Jan. 25 cancelled their films’ releases. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content