Gearing up for the 72nd Venice Film Festival, Memento Films, the Paris-based production-distribution-sales house, announced Wednesday its acquisition of both French distribution and world sales rights to “A Monster With a Thousand Heads,” from Rodrigo, a leading light of Mexico’s new wave cinema.
A social thriller as Pla’s debut, “The Zone,” “A Monster” plays Venice’s Horizons. It marks the third collaboration between Pla and Memento, whose credits as a producer, distributor or sales agent include two Palme d’Or winners, 2008’s “The Class” and 2014’s “Winter Sleep.”
In France, Memento Distribution released “The Zone” in 2008 to a robust 130,000 admission trawl – over $900,000 in B.O. gross; Memento Films Intl’s world cinema arthouse label Artscope took world rights to Pla’s third feature, “The Delay,” a fest hit, winning the Ecumenical Jury Prize at 2012’s Berlin. “Monster” marks a full-blown pick-up by Memento Films Intl.
“A Monster” jojns Xavier Giannoli’s Venice competition player “Marguerite” and Brazilian Gabriel Mascaro’s “Bull Down,” also in Horizons, on Memento Films Intl.’s Venice slate, one of the most numerous of any sales agent at Venice.
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It also signals Pla’s fourth feature partnering, dating back to “La Zona,” with wife and writer Laura Santullo, adapting Santullo’s novel of the same name.
As in “La Zona,” “A Monster” casts a hot-button issue – here, big corporation abuse – in a thriller format. Mexican theater actress Jana Raluy plays Sonia, who, in a crazed attempt to save her dying husband by accessing special medical treatment, hunts down the top execs at a corrupt and negligent insurance company which has arbitrarily argued that the treatment is mot covered by their policy.
That leads Sonia and her son into a vertiginous spiral of violence. A wounded animal doesn’t cry, it bites, the plot synopsis runs.
“We are very pleased to work with Rodrigo again. In every film, he explores new approaches to filmmaking, his themes are always relevant in a modern socio-political context,” said Tanja Meissner, Memento Films’ head of international sales & acquisitions
She added: “’A Monster’ is probably his most commercial film to date. As he did with ‘La Zona’, he uses thriller as an amazing device to expose outrageous social injustice. This mother’s fight against a huge corrupt organization should strike a universal chord.”
Unflagging once the action kicks in, Pla’s “A Monster,” which unspools over one long afternoon, evening and night, is produced by Pla and Sandino Saravia Vinay at their Mexico City-based Buenaventura Cine. Matthias Ehrenberg, a key pioneer of new Mexican cinema, co-produces out of Rio Negro Producciones.
French period drama “Marguerite,” directed by Giannoli (“In the Beginning,” “Superstar”), which is loosely inspired by Florence Foster Jenkins. dubbed the world’s worst soprano, has Catherine Frot (“Haute Cuisine”) as a would-be opera singer with an excruciatingly bad voice It world premieres at Venice having struck major territory pre-sales across the world.
Stephen Frears is also preparing his own movie on the subject, “Florence Foster Jenkins,” with Meryl Streey and Hugh Grant.
Lead produced by Rachel Ellis at Recife-based Desvia Films, “Neon Bull” is the second fiction feature from Gabriel Mascaro (“August Winds”), a leading light on Pernambuco’s often distinctive Recife indie film scene in North-East Brazil. A singular aspiration drama, it stars Julio Casares (“Wolf at the Door”) as a “vaqueiro” bull stable hand who drams of becoming a big-time fashion designer.