Confirming its status as one of the go-to art-fare companies at the 2017 Berlin Film Festival, Michael Weber’s The Match Factory has acquired international sales rights to five Berlinale world premieres, three of them in competition, including Finnish icon Aki Kaurismaki’s “The Other Side of Hope.”
When the dust settles on the pickups of titles selected for this year’s Berlinale, few if any sales agents from whatever country are likely to own a larger slice of Berlin competition real estate than The Match Factory.
Of new pickups, the company will represent “Bright Nights,” from German 1990s new wave writer-director Thomas Arslan, marking his follow-up to 2012 Berlin competition hit “Gold,” a latter-day Klondike-set Western. Produced by Germany’s Schramm Film Koerner & Weber and Norway’s Mer Film, “Bright Nights” returns Arslan to the rugged wild – remote north Norway – in what The Match Factory describes as a touching father-son drama.
“The Other Side of Hope,” part two of Kaurismaki’s port city trilogy, picks up on the local resident-immigrant relationship of “Le Havre,” mixing that with Kaurismaki’s retro air, deadpan humor and lived-in characters. Set in contemporary Helsinki, it enters on the relationship between a traveling salesman and a Syrian refugee seeking asylum in Finland. “The Other Side of Hope” is Kaurismaki’s first feature in six years. The Match Factory sells the whole of Kaurismaki’s library, dating back to the 1980s.
“The Centaur,” the latest film from Aktan Arym Kubat, will screen in Panorama. Kubat is Kyrgyzstan’s best-known auteur and director of “The Swing,” and directed “The Adopted Son” and “The Chimp” under his Russian name, Aktan Abdykalykov. An ambitious Kyrgyzstan co-production with the Netherlands, Germany and France, “Centaur” turns on a former horse thief living a peaceful life in the capital who is challenged to pull off a spectacular horse heist. It is inspired by the legend of horses giving men wings.
Comedy “Wild Mouse” from Josef Hader – an award-winning actor and one of Austria’s foremost cabaret artists – is a satire of middle-class life, Hader has said. It relates the huge blow to his ego taken by a music critic laid off by his paper’s editor; as he plots revenge, he steadily slides off the rails. Hader stars. “Wild Mouse” is one of two first features in Berlin competition, and will be released in Germany by Majestic on March 9.
Rounding out The Match Factory’s sales slate of Berlin-selected movies is “Bye Bye Germany,” from Sam Garbarski. Described as a “heartfelt historical entertainment,” the film turns on the battle by David Bermann (Moritz Bleibtreu) and his Jewish friends who survived the Nazi regime to make some bucks in order to leave for America. A Berlinale Gala Special, “Bye Bye Germany“ will hit German cinemas on April 6, distributed by X-Verleih.
In Berlin, The Match Factory will also screen three Sundance premieres in the European Film Market: Swedish writer-director Tarik Saleh’s film noir “The Nile Hilton Incident,” set in Cairo in 2011; “Axolotl Overkill,” German Helene Hegemann’s makeover of her own novel; and Cate Blanchett-starrer “Manifesto,” from Julian Rosefeldt.