LOCARNO, Sitzerland — Berlin-based Films Boutique, a world sales company for movies from new art-house talent and established – though often singular – auteurs, has acquired “Heartstone” and “Guilty Men,” both of which are set to world-premiere at September’s Venice Days.
The two titles are first features. Films Boutique will also be representing black-and-white Venice competition title “The Woman Who Left,” the German sales agent’s second title with Philippine Lav Diaz this year.
Written and directed by Icelandic feature first-timer Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson, and with ace cinematographer Sturla Brandth Grøvlen (“Victoria,” “Rams”) serving as DP, “Heartstone” is set in a remote fishing village in Iceland. Teens Thor and Christian experience the rush of first love as one tries to win the heart of a girl; the other discovers new feelings toward his best friend.
“When summer ends and the harsh nature of Iceland takes back its rights, it’s time to leave the playground and face adulthood,” the synopsis reads.
“Heartstone” is produced by Join Motion Pictures, a new company in Iceland, and the much more established and larger SF Studios Production, in Denmark.
“Guðmundur is a real talent. He manages to combine the breathtaking beauty and harshness of wild Iceland with the tenderness and youthful energy of the characters,” said Louis Balsan, at Films Boutique.
He added: “Recent successes like ‘Mustang’ show us that audiences connect with a film that takes the freshness of youth to deal with serious issues.”
“Heartstone” was developed at the Cannes Festival’s Cinefondation Résidence Program. A graduate from the Icelandic Art Academy, Guðmundsson garnered a special mention at Cannes for his short film “Whale Valley,” which was also nominated for a European Film Award. The director took home a string of prizes for his 2014 short “Ártún.”
Directed by Colombia’s Ivan D. Gaona, “Pariente” (“Guilty Men”) begins with a couple, Mariana and René, preparing their wedding. As an illegal paramilitary armed group demobilizes in the region, strange new murders endanger their village’s tranquility.
A drama thriller and neo-Western with a social underbelly, suggesting how some of the paramilitary moved into racketeering, the movie has echoes of Sergio Leone. Well-connected in Latin America, Films Boutique saw large success handing Colombian Ciro Guerre’s Oscar-nominated “Embrace of the Serpent,” as well as select other Latin American titles such as “La jaula de oro.”
“The most daring section in Venice, Venice Days is an excellent platform to launch two emerging filmmakers,” said Bausan. Both titles are in the running to hit a further big festival later in September, which would allow Films Boutique to follow-up on business broached at Venice.
“Not all the buyers in the world are at Venice. But there are always some high-quality acquisitions executives,” said Bausan. He added: “Every time we’re at Venice Days, we end up closing the first deals, which are the hardest to close. And you arrive in Toronto with reviews.”
The acquisitions come as Films Boutique has already seen a banner 2016. “Divines,” a ghetto drama from Houda Benyamina, won the Cannes Camera d’Or for best first feature. Lav Diaz’s epic “A Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery” scooped up the Silver Bear Alfred Bauer Prize for innovation. Sundance and Berlin Panorama title “Kiki,” directed by Sara Jordenö and Twiggy Pucci Garcon, earned a Teddy Award for best documentary. Joao Pedro Rodrigues’ “The Ornithologist” competes this week for Locarno’s Golden Leopard.