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on that universal fear that maybe all of us have had as children that our parents are not our parents but have been replaced by strangers,” he added, noting that the film had a “Sixth Sense” twist.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