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Artsploitation takes U.S. on Reel Suspects’ ‘Horsehead’ (EXCLUSIVE)

‘German Angst,’ also sold by Reel Suspects, secures Rotterdam Fest berth

Matteo Lovadina’s Paris-based Reel Suspects has sold U.S rights to supernatural fantasy “Horsehead,” a French genre auteur fest hit, to Raymond Murray’s Artsploitation Films, a indie distributor specializing in unsettling art or genre film fare from around the world.

The sale comes as Reel Suspects’ “German Angst,” a horror triptych, has been selected for the Rotterdam Festival. Artsploitation aims to give “Horsehead” a limited theatrical release before its distribution on DVD and VOD.

A first feature from France’s Romain Basset, but shot in English, “Horsehead” has played many of the world’s top genre/fantasy fests, establishing its credentials among fanboys (and girls), including Austin’s Fantastic Fest, Spain’s Sitges, Mexico’s Morbido Fest, the Buenos Aires Rojo Sangre meet, and Germany’s Exground Filmfest.

From Starfix Productions – and associate produced by Lovadina – “Horsehead” has already been licensed by Reel Suspects to Canada (Black Fawn Distribution), South Korea (Lumix Media) and Taiwan (Moviecloud). Lovadina said he expected more sales to close at next month’s Berlinale.

Written by Basset and Karim Cheriguene, “Horsehead” turns on a girl, Jessica, who suffering graphic nightmares from childhood, and now studies the psychophysiology of dreams. When her grandmother dies, Jessica returns to the family home, where her grandmother’s body is placed in the adjoining room.

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Running a high fever, she attempts to experiment with lucid dreaming – from which some people never recover – so as to control her nightmares and confront the evil that has haunted her and her family house: An evil horse-headed monster. Gradually the boundary between dreams and reality blurs.

“’Horsehead’ is a very stylish, clever and powerful first-time feature, in the line of the ‘giallo’ movies of Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci, but integrating imagery in a world which the director has made his own,” said Lovadina.

French actress-singer Lilly-Fleur Pointeaux plays Jessica, Brit Catriona Maccoll – a cult actress to genre connoisseurs after starring in Fulci’s “The Gates of Hell” trilogy – limns her mother; singer-actor Murray Head (“Sunday, Bloody Sunday”) is a family friend.

“I am very happy to be working again with Artspoitation, whose great team is passionate and devoted to films, as they already proved with our previous title, ‘Vanishing Waves,’” Lovadina told Variety.

He addeds: “Horsehead’ is our cross-over star of 2014-15, arthouse genre, which we are used to selling from Reel Suspects’ beginnings. The power of those films, where the author has something to say, is that they can attract both arthouse niche and genre audiences, festivals are really supportive on this type of title, and foreign horror can generate nice numbers on VOD in the U.S.”

Another arthouse mix with genre, here sci-fi, “Vanishing Waves,” directed by Lithuania’s Katrina Buozyte, sold to Artsploitation; Kino Lorber acquired U.S. rights to Reel Suspects’ 2014 title “Patch Town,” Craig Goodwill’s comedic fairy tale.

Making its world premiere at the Rotterdam Fest’s Really? Section, which focuses on “contemporary reality,” “German Angst” is a German three-part horror movie directed by Jorg Buttgereit, whose “Nekromanitik” helped re-launch modern German horror film, Andreas Marschall, director of “Tears of Kali,” a Melies d’Argent winner, and Michal Kosakowski, whose “Zero Killed,” a controversial fiction/docu feature on murder fantasies, won best film at the 2012 Chicago Underground Festival.

Tales turn on love, horror and sex in Berlin: In Buttgereit’s “Final Girl,” a young girl lives alone in a dirty apartment, save for her guinea pig and a man, which is bound and gagged; Kosakowski’s ”Make a Wish” has hooligans attacking a young deaf-mute couple, who fight back using a powerful talisman; a man is promised the ultimate sexual experience, taking a Mandragora plant drug, which has terrible side effects in Marschall’s “Alraune.”

Rotterdam is “the perfect platform to launch the film, the audience will be surprised and shocked,” Lovadina said. The film will make its market premiere at Berlin’s European Film Market, is highly anticipated and a web buzz title,” he added.

Alamode Film/Pierrot Le Fou has acquired rights to German-speaking Europe on “German Angst.” Lumix Media and Moviecloud have also bought the movie.

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