Closing deals across most of Western Europe, the key sales region for art films, Pyramide Intl. has sold a further seven territories on Patricio Guzman’s docu-feature “The Pearl Button,” one of the five best-reviewed of first-half Berlin competition players, according to one Berlinale critics’ poll.
“The Pearl Button” won a Berlin Best Screenplay Silver Bear and the Ecumenical Jury Prize Saturday.
U.S. and Canada are now under negotiation. The latest deals, all clinched since last weekend, involve one or two welcome new entries to Europe’s arthouse scene plus some of the best known and most resilient of Euro speciality houses.
In a new banner deal, Italian rights on “The Pearl Button” have gone to Bologna-based I Wonder Pictures, a distrib company founded in 2013 and specializing in docu-feature and life-story films. Its first acquisitions took in “Searching for Sugar Man” and “The Act of Killing.”
In early market sales, Real Fiction closed Germany and New Wave, headed by Robert Beeson and Pamela Engel, for the U.K. and Ireland. Pyramide Distribution will release “The Pearl Button” in France.
In further new deals, Denmark’s Ost For Paradis, a buyer of “Jimmy’s Hall,” “The Tribe” and “Force Majeure,” has acquired Danish rights. Another classic art pic buyer, AMA Films, which acquired Cannes Palme d’Or winner “Winter Sleep,” has licensed Greece. Against Gravity, whose distribution slate features “Leviathan” and “Winter Sleep,” has purchased rights to Poland.
The Czech Republic’s Film Europe, a European films specialist which operates niche TV channels, festivals and a cinema theater, has picked up rights to the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Sales to date also takes in two multiterritory buys: Beirut-based Moving Turtle acquired Middle East rights, in a comprising 16 countries; MCF Megacom has acquired rights to ex-Yugoslavia and Albania.
In all, “The Pearl Button” has close 13 international sales deals to date, a noteworthy number of licensing pacts given that Berlin was its first major market.
The latest film from Chilean Patricio Guzman, the doyen of Latin American documentary filmmakers, and shot by Katell Dijian, whose credits include Jean-Luc Godard’s “For Ever Mozart” and Nicholas Philibert’s “To Be and to Have,” “The Pearl Button” explores hallmark Guzman themes – memory, the historical past, for example, but transplanted to an extraordinary new context: Chile’s Western Patagonia Archipelago, the largest in the world, per Guzman, with an estimated 74,000 kilometers of coast, a maze of islands, isles, inlets, peninsulas, rock and fjords.
Poetic, its poetry goes beyond its sometimes dazzling images to its discovery of affinities in the seemingly distant: Here, the fate of the indigenous inhabitants of the archipelago and the victims of Pinochet’s regime, injected with lethal doses, tied to rails, and dropped dead or alive into the ocean. Whether that poetic conceit feels intellectually fruitful or forced may determine spectators’ final reaction to Guzman’s “The Pearl Button.”