Karlovy Vary: Films Boutique Kicks Off Sales on ‘The Cakemaker,’ ‘Los Perros’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Titles two of four Films Boutique feature at Karlovy Vary as its hits raise the sales agents’ profile among art and crossover film distributors

Karlovy Vary Films Boutique Kicks in
Courtesy of Laila Films

Berlin-based Films Boutique, a sales company that is belying its moniker with breakouts such as “Divines” and “On Body and Soul,” has kicked off sales on Karlovy Vary Film Festival competition entry “The Cakemaker” and “Los Perros,” which screens in the festival’s Another View section.

Of other Films Boutique titles, Indian Miransha Naik’s “Juze” plays out of competition, while German Valeska Grisebach’s “Western,” world premiering in Cannes Un Certain Regard, is in Horizons. That makes for a four-picture presence – among the largest of any sales company at Karlovy Vary.

“We try to grow with the films and directors we represent,” said Films Boutique international sales executive Louis Balsan, who will attend Karlovy Vary with Gabor Greiner who oversees acquisitions. “That means we might now have more in bigger festival sections,” Balsan added.

Israeli writer-director Ofir Raul Graizer’s feature debut, “The Cakemaker,” which world premieres at Karlovy Vary, turns on Thomas, played by German TV actor Tim Kalkhof, who works at a Berlin café lovingly confecting Black Forest cake and cimarron cookies. After the death of his lover, Oren, an Israel businessman, he heads to Jerusalem where he ends up creating for himself a job as a pastry chef at the kosher local café owned by Anat, Oran’s widow.

In pre-sales, Films Boutique has closed on the “The Cakemaker” with Japan (Shin Nippon), Spain (Karma), Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay (Mirada) and Hungary (Cirko Films). A North American deal will be announced shortly; Germany and Austria are in talks.

An Israeli-German co-production, “The Cakemaker” is produced by Itai Kamir at Tel Aviv’s Laila Films – who produced Nada Lapid’s bracing debut “Policeman” and Berlinale 2017 Forum player “Low Tide” –  and Mathias Schwerbrock at Film Base Berlin, distinguished for its involvement in productions with France (“The Transporter” TV series), India (“Don 2”) and Israel (“The Interrogation”).

As a non-Jewish German, Thomas’ presence at Anat’s cafe is questioned by the local orthodox Jewish community – as his cakes do a roaring trade and Anat begins to develop feelings for the shy, industrious man – and “The Cakemaker” develops into a contained melodrama suggesting the naturalness of unorthodox  modes which play out across the realms of religion, sex and love.

“The film begins as a gay love story but builds into a story which asks what love really is and how we deal with it,” said Balsan,

Screened at Cannes Film Market, “The Cakemaker” is “on the more commercial side of our line-up but can work well in an art film space, as is validated by its selection for Karlovy Vary, which will give it a lot of prestige,” according to Balsan.

For her part, “Los Perros’” director, Marcela Said, whose debut “Summer of Flying Fish” played Cannes Directors’ Fortnight, is “one of the new voices from a very high-quality generation of filmmakers coming out of Chile,” Balsan argued.

“A supremely assured and intriguing sophomore feature,“ Variety wrote of the Said-written “Los Perros,” which screened this year in Cannes’ Critics’ Week, it charts the growing sexual attraction of a wealthy, directionless 42-year-old woman, Mariana (Antonia Zegers), towards Juan, her 60-year-old riding instructor (Alfredo Castro), who looks set to be prosecuted for human rights abuse under the Pinochet regime.

Investigating the colonel, she discovers her own father, a garrulous industry bigwig, could have been far more implicated than he lets on in the torture and murder of Chileans under Pinochet. How she reacts is another matter.

Part of an “extremely well-made Latin America cinema which is building audiences around the world,” Balsan said, “Los Perros” is “completed grounded in contemporary Chilean reality but universal in the questions it asks. These include “how you handle a crime by someone close in your family as opposed to a stranger’s.”

Nour Films, a distributor launched in 2008 by Patrick Sibourd to support more singular and engaged movies, will distribute in  France, in a deal brokered by Paris-based Cinema Defacto, the film’s lead producer with Chile Jirafa Films.

In first sales on “Los Perros,” Films Boutique has closed Spain (Karma Films), China (Time in Portrait), Brazil (Imovision), and Switzerland (Filmcoopi).

In a demonstration of the impact of an upbeat reception for a major section title at Cannes, “Western” has clinched 25 territories, and counting. “Western” represents a welcome comeback for Grisebach whose 2006 Berlinale competition contender “Longing” was acclaimed as a “mightily impressive feature debut” by Variety.

Balsan pointed out that Films Boutique has always had films in Berlinale and Venice Competitions and Cannes Un Certain Regard, Directors’ Fortnight and Critics’ Week.

“When films you handle grow unexpectedly, it’s natural a sales company becomes more visible,” he said.

He added: “That said, Films Boutique is maintaining its balance: Newcomer directors on one hand, and established ones and masters on the other.”