PARIS– In the run-up to its competition unspooling at Berlin, arthouse shingle Films Boutique has snatched up international sales rights to critically aclaimed Japanese helmer Sabu’s “Chasuke’s Journey” from Paris-based Backup.
Sabu is no stranger to Berlin. But while he has presented eight movies at the festival, it will be his first venture in competition.
Sabu said he was particularly happy to finally nab a competition slot without having “to bend his sense of humor.” He added that his “partners (encouraged him) to prioritize his artistic values during the making” of the movie.
Pic tells the tale of an angel who comes to Earth to save a woman after accidentally causing her death.
“Sabu is one of today’s more daring and innovative filmmakers, and ‘Chasuke’s Journey’ is a film that could please both arthouse and genre-film lovers. It’s rare to see a film mixing fantasy, action and emotion in such a brilliant way,” pointed out Jean-Christophe Simon, founder of Berlin-based Films Boutique, whose lineup of edgy world cinema titles includes Baldvin Zophoníasson’s “Life in a Fishbowl,” Adrian Biniez’s “El Cinco” and Duccio Chiarini’s “Short Skin.”
A bold Berlin competition entry, “Chasuke’s Journey” is produced by Shozo Ichiyama at high-profile Japanese outfit Office Kitano. Shochiku will release it domestically.
“Chasuke’s Journey” is one of Backup’s two movies set to world premiere in competition at Berlin. The second title, Benoit Jacquot’s anticipated “Diary of a Chambermaid,” is an adaptation of Octave Mirbeau’s novel toplining France’s rising star Lea Seydoux (“Blue Is the Warmest Color”).
“It’s a surprising and unique film that was very challenging for us to make, so we salute Berlin for going off the beaten path and choosing to showcase it in competition,” said the producer Shozo Ichiyama.
Backup has also come on board to co-finance Kike Maillo’s upscale Spanish thriller “Toro” and Ali Abbasi’s horror film “Shelley.”
“The radical diversity of these films illustrates our love for films and filmmakers, and I guess that is what makes us special as financiers… and makes us feel like Jean-Claude Van Damme doing a split,” quipped Backup partner David Atlan-Jackson, who founded the company with Jean-Baptiste Babin and Joel Thibout.
“Toro,” produced by Apache, marks director Kike Maillo’s follow-up to feature debut robot movie “Eva.” Film Factory is handling sales to the pic, which is due to start shooting at the end of the month.
“Shelley,” from newcomer Abbasi, has an interesting cast led by Romanian actress Cosmina Stratan, who won a Cannes award for her performance in “Beyond the Hills” and Norwegian thesp Ellen Dorrit Petersen, the breakout star of Sundance winner “Blind.”
The producer of “Shelley,” Jacob Jarek from Denmark’s Profile Pictures, described “Shelley” as a “horror film about tampering with human nature.” Jarek added, “It is a contained, emotionally heightened psychological horror film with soul-searching performances.”
Co-produced by two top purveyors of Scandinavian arty genre cinema, Ditte Milsted (“When Animals Dream”) and Thor Sigurjonsson (“Only God Forgive”), “Shelley” is now in post, and a promo will be introduced to buyers at Berlin. A sales agent is in the process of picking up the film.
At Berlin, Backup also has the international premiere of “A Perfect Man,” a thriller starring French up-and-comer Pierre Niney, which proved one of the highlights at the Unifrance Rendez-Vous in Paris, and four projects: Luis Tosar starrer “Vulcania” (sold by SND), Nicolas Saada’s “Taj Mahal” with Stacy Martin (sold by Bac), Alvaro Longoria’s “The Propaganda Game” (sold by Memento) and Eva Husson’s “Gang Bang” (sold by Film Distribution).