LONDON — IFC Films has acquired North American rights to Oscar-winner Asif Kapadia’s “Ali & Nino” from worldwide sales agent IM Global and CAA, following the movie’s premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. Kapadia won an Academy Award this year for his documentary feature “Amy.”
“Ali & Nino,” a feature-film adaptation of the novel by Kurban Said, stars Maria Valverde (Ridley Scott’s “Exodus: Gods and Kings”), Adam Bakri (“Omar”), Mandy Patinkin (“Homeland”) and Connie Nielsen (“Gladiator,” “Wonder Woman”). The screenplay is by Christopher Hampton, who won an Oscar with “Dangerous Liaisons,” and the film is produced by Kris Thykier (“Trash,” “Woman in Gold”) and executive produced by Leyla Aliyeva.
The film centers on Ali Khan and Nino Kipiani, who live in Baku, the cosmopolitan, oil-rich capital of Azerbaijan, which, at the beginning of the 20th century, is a melting pot of different cultures. Ali is a Muslim, with his warrior ancestors’ passion for the desert; Nino is a Christian Georgian girl with sophisticated European ways. The two have loved each other since childhood, and Ali is determined that they marry.
But overcoming cultural and religious differences and winning parental consent are not their only obstacles. World War I breaks out, and Baku’s oil becomes the focus of Russia’s quest for power. As the war plays out and control of the Caucasus changes hands, the young lovers find themselves swept up in Azerbaijan’s fight for independence.
Jonathan Sehring, president of Sundance Selects/IFC Films, said: “IFC Films is very excited to be working with Asif Kapadia who, throughout his career, has shown a unique capacity for making films that are not only visually compelling but emotionally honest as well.”
Thykier commented: “We are delighted to be working with IFC Films. Their passion for the film and commitment to giving it the best possible platform in North America is thrilling. We look forward to bringing this timeless love story to American audiences and then on to the rest of the world.”