PARIS – Making good on upbeat festival reception, Paris-based Reel Suspects has rolled out sales on “Demon,” a title made sadly all the more famous by the tragic abrupt death of its director, 42-year-old Marcin Wrona, a week after its screening at September’s Toronto Festival.
In early major-territory deals, Matteo Lovadina’s Reel Suspects has licensed Germany/Austria (Donau Films), Scandinavia (Njuta Films), Brazil (Supo Mungam), Australia (SBS), and Central Europe (HBO).
ICM sold U.S. rights to the Orchard, which will release “Demon” Stateside in 2016. Donau Films will give “Demon” a theatrical run through the Drop Out Cinema Network in May 2016.
Starring Itay Tiran (“Lebanon,” “Beaufort”), Agnieska Zulewska and Tomasz Schuchardt, “Demon” turns on a man who is given a piece of land as a wedding gift from his bride-to-be’s father to build a house and raise a happy family. As he prepares the land, he unearths the bones of human bodies beneath the new property. Strange things begin to happen, changing the happy couple’s lives forever.
“What’s most important to me in this film is the tale of spirituality, which is now very difficult to access or it has completely changed its face. What we tried to achieve in this film was for the wedding guests to be confronted by something supernatural. They don’t know how to act on it or how to communicate with it,” Wrona explained.
“We have used grotesque horror in our film, but our aim wasn’t to copy Japanese or Spanish or American horror films — they have their own demons; we wanted to use ours.”
“Demon” could be a misleading title, he recognized.
“In fact, we meant the dybbuk not a demon. But since the latter is rather forgotten nowadays we decided to use a contemporary word that most of our wedding guests would use. Dybbuk was very present in Poland when the Jewish community here was still very numerous. Once they left the land so did the dybbuks. Demon is different than dybbuk.”
Wrona added: “Dybbuk doesn’t have to be scary. It’s a returning soul that returns not to scare away but rather to remind us of respect for tradition. I wanted to touch the mystic aspect of the Jewish-Polish lives and hence the idea to cast an Israeli actor in our film.”
“Demon” is a Polish-Israeli co-production by Magnet Man Film and Transfax Film Productions, spoken in Polish, English and Yiddish.
“We are proud to work on this film that is having a great festival career, playing in both generalist and genre film festivals: Toronto, Cottbus, Haifa, Warsaw, Stockholm, Trieste, Bordeaux, Tallin but also Sitges, Fantastic Fest, Fantasy Filmfest, and many others,” said Lovadina.
Austin’s Fantastic Fest and Sitges, near Barcelona, are, respectively, the biggest and highest-profile genre events in the U.S. and Europe.
Lovadina added: “‘Demon’ has also attracted distributors, and we hope to continue expanding territories during the European Film Market.”
“Magnet Man,” Wrona’s student debut, won him multiple prizes, including the best student film at Tribeca. Bowing at 2010’s San Sebastian Festival, “The Christening,” his second feature, proved a firm fest favorite, and broke out to sales.