Swipe Picks Up Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s ‘The President’ in U.K., Ireland

LONDON — Swipe Films has acquired the U.K. and Irish distribution rights from BAC Films Intl. to Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s “The President,” which opened the Horizons section at last year’s Venice Film Festival.

“The President” was shot in Georgia and tells the story of a revolution and the collapse of a dictatorship. It is inspired by the various uprisings that have taken place in the Middle East in recent years.

“It is a modern fable about power, reconciliation, and the hope for breaking a never-ending cycle of violence, exploring the possibility of stopping the violence after a revolution in search of freedom and democracy,” Makhmalbaf said.

In a village in the Caucasus, the President of the country is on the run with his five-year-old grandson following a coup d’etat. The two travel across the lands that the President once governed. Now, disguised as a street musician to avoid being recognized, the former dictator comes into contact with his people, and gets to know them from a different point of view.

“The President” won best film at the Chicago Film Festival, and the audience awards at Tokyo FILMeX and the Beirut Film Festival.

Makhmalbaf, who lives in exile in London and Paris, spent five years in prison in Tehran as a teenager after he was shot by a policeman while protesting against the dictatorship of the Shah of Iran.

As an innovative marketing move, Swipe is offering 100 presidents of leading U.K. organizations discounted tickets to the film on its opening weekend.

Swipe deployed a similar cross-promotional strategy on Bordeaux-set movie “You Will Be My Son,” starring Niels Arestrup. It had a seven-month long run in cinemas, perhaps helped initially by a marketing campaign offering a free glass of vintage Bordeaux to cinema-goers.

The film’s producers are Mohsen’s son, Maysam Makhmalbaf, Mike Downey, Sam Taylor and Vladimer Katcharava. Mohsen Makhmalbaf wrote the script with his wife, Marziyeh Meshkiny, and the film is edited by his daughter, Hana Makhmalbaf. The co-producing partners are Makhmalbaf Film House, 20 Steps, F&ME and Bruemmer and Herzog Filmproduktion.

The deal was negotiated by Frank Mannion of Swipe Films and Clementine Hugot on behalf of BAC Films Intl. The film will be released on August 21.

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