LOCARNO, Switzerland — New York-based Film Movement, a distributor in the U.S. and Canada of some of the world’s biggest festival hits, has acquired all rights to Koji Fukada’s Un Certain Regard winner “Harmonium,” sold by Paris-based MK2 Films.
The deal was announced by Film Movement at the Locarno Film Festival, where company president Michael E. Rosenberg will be on the lookout for further first-run, award-winning foreign or indie titles, Film Movement’s stock-in-trade.
Reprising much of the set-up, but hardly the tone, of black comedy “Hospitalite,” Fukada’s admired second feature, “Harmonium” won Un Certain Regard’s Jury Prize, its runner’s-up plaudit, this May at Cannes.
“Harmonium” will make its North American premiere at September’s Toronto Film Festival. This will be followed by a theatrical opening in early 2017, then a digital and home-video bow.
“Harmonium” was the film for which “Hospitalite” was intended as a pilot, according to Fukada. It stars Tadanobu Asano, a Japanese actor with international cachet (“Thor”), as an ex-con taken in by a family whose father (Kanji Furutachi) appears to owe him a favor. He is hired as an apprentice at the family’s factory. As he initiates a flirtation with the wife (Mariko Tsutsui), “Harmonium” veers towards a slow-boiling critique of family life before a sudden dramatic event takes it into completely different territory.
“Koji Fukada goes from strength to strength, and his latest award-winning film is quite a complement to his earlier film ‘Hospitalite,’ Rosenberg said, adding: “We are pleased to have them both in Film Movement’s catalog.”
Variety critic Maggie Lee, in her Cannes review, described “Harmonium” as a “quietly combustible tale of punishment and crime….The film provides the veteran cast with an ideal framework to mount masterful performances.”
The deal was finalized by Rosenberg and Fionulla Jameson, MK2 head of international sales. Recent Film Movement acquisitions are gritty Flemish family crime saga “The Ardennes” by Savage Film’s Bart Van Langendonck, whose credits include Michael Roskam’s “Bullhead,” and Maiwenn’s “My King” (“Mon Roi”), which won Emmanuelle Bercot best actress at Cannes last year. “My King” will be released in New York on Aug. 12 and Los Angeles on Aug. 26.