Paris-based Stray Dogs has acquired world sales rights outside producers’ territories to Ben Russell’s “Good Luck” and Germano Maccioni’s “The Asteroids,” which both world premiere in main International Competition at Switzerland’s Locarno Festival.
Opening Wednesday Aug. 4 with Gaumont’s “Tomorrow and Every Other Day,” directed France’s Noémie Lvovsky. the Locarno Festival runs through Aug. 12.
Chicago-based artist-filmmaker Russell came to fame in 2009 with his feature debut, “Let Each One Go Where He May,” shot in South America’s Surinam as 13 long takes. Produced by France’s KinoElektron, in co-production with Germany’s CasK Films, and backed by France’s CNC and Arte France and Germany’s Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, “Good Luck” captures in Super 16mm the work life of state employees at an 1,300-feet-deep underground copper mine in Bor, Serbia and an illegal panhandling operation in the tropical jungle of Kiki Neki, Surinam.
Crucially, Russell also retains the sequence shots. One, following three miners as they take a lift down a shaft at Bor, lasts nearly 13 minutes, five-and-a-half minutes as the elevator descends ever deeper to the mine face. Quizzed about why they do such a job, the workers’ answers are remarkably similar, though they work on opposite sides of the world.
“Good Luck’ is a hallucinatory documentary portrait of two mining communities. In a time of global economic turmoil, here is the human foundation of capital, revealed,” the synopsis runs.
“‘Good Luck’ is an immersive cinematic trip with a unique sense of time and place and strong political comment,” added Stray Dogs’ founder Nathan Fischer.
“It’s really beautiful and you see a lot about humanity in the film. It is on the arthouse side of the market, but there is a clear appetite for these films combining ethnography, politics and art,” Fischer added, noting that “we always appreciate working with multi-media artists because they have more built-in audiences and supporters, which generally translate much better in terms of festivals and digital and niche distribution.”
The fiction feature debut of Germano Maccioni, an actor-turned documentary director (“Fedele alla linea”), “The Asteroids” is a grounded crime thriller, a coming-of-age tale of three childhood friends, now teens and embroiled in petty church thefts.
Set on the monotonous plains of Emilia in Northern Italy, “The Asteroids” can also be seen as a portrait of the generational gulf between a directionless youth and their played-out parents.
One, Pietri, now studies in a desultory fashion for university exams at high school, while his mother sells their home to pay of debts from the family business. Ivan’s booze-sozzled dad wants him to take a dead-end job at a coffee capsule packaging factory. The spaced-out Cosmic, meanwhile, believes with a certain relish that an asteroid could hit the earth. Against a sense of impending doom, the prospect of a bigger job, robbing prized candelabra from a church. offers some kind of salvation for the trio, and lends “The Asteroids” a genre edge.
“‘The Asteroids’ combines the best codes and aesthetics of a classic Italian crime film with something fresher, more modern, an end of the world suggestion brought by the approach of an asteroid, and the fact that the film is kind of coming of age,” Fischer said.
“I believe Maccioni will end up making slick crime films like the director of ‘Suburra.’ We’re also excited because it’s rare for a non-Italian sales agent to get a good Italian independent film, especially a crime film,” he added.
“The Asteroids” is produced by Italy’s Articolture and Oceans Productions, in co-production with RAI Cinema.