×

Cannes Standout ‘Happy as Lazzaro’ Inks Major Global Sales (EXCLUSIVE)

Happy as Lazzaro,” a prizewinner at the Cannes Film Festival, has sold widely around the world, including to China, the U.K., Germany and Spain, following Netflix’s previously announced acquisition of North and Latin American rights.

German sales company The Match Factory has closed deals for more than 20 territories for the time-bending fable about Italy’s transition from a rural society to modernity. The film, directed by Alice Rohrwacher, was a standout in Cannes’ official competition lineup and won the best screenplay award for Rohrwacher (in a tie with Iran’s Nader Saeivar for “3 Faces”).

Set in a pastoral village dominated by a tyrannical tobacco magnate, the fact-inspired story is centered on a meeting between Lazzaro, a young peasant so good he is often mistaken for being simple-minded, and Tancredi, a young nobleman cursed by his imagination. A bond is sealed when Tancredi asks Lazzaro to help him orchestrate his own kidnapping.

Variety critic Guy Lodge called the film a “tale of a rural innocent defying life’s certainties to bear witness to two separate eras of social and economic exploitation” and praised it as “a slow but bewitching burn that rewards viewers’ patience with humor and uncanny grace.” Lodge said “Lazzaro” sealed Rohrwacher’s status “as a truly distinctive European major,” following her 2014 Cannes Grand Prix winner “The Wonders.”

“Lazzaro” has been licensed for theatrical release in China (iQiyi); the U.K. (Modern Film); Germany (PIFFL); Spain (Vertigo); Russia (Mauris); the Middle East and North Africa (Moving Turtle); Australia (Palace); Turkey (Filmarti); Israel (United King); Sandinavia (Folkets Bio); and the Benelux countries (Cinemien), among other territories.

Producer Carlo Cresto-Dina said he was particularly pleased about the deal with China, where “the arthouse market is growing,” and the sale to U.K. distributor Modern Times, a new company founded by former Soda Pictures chief Eve Gabereau that specializes in “films by women that are socially committed.” 

“Lazzaro” was one of only three titles by a female filmmaker out of the 21 Cannes competition titles.

Carlo Cresto-Dina said he would work with Netflix to try to secure a theatrical release in the U.S., since “this is a movie that was made to be seen in movie theaters.”

In its first theatrical outing, “Lazzaro” is being released in Italy on Wednesday by Rai Cinema’s 01 distribution on about 120 screens.

Happy as Lazzaro” is an Italy-Switzerland-France-German production. It’s a Tempesta production with Rai Cinema in co-production with Amka Films Prods., Ad Vitam Production, KNM, Pola Pandora, RSI Radiotelevisione Svizzera, ARTE France Cinéma, and ZDF/ARTE.

More Film

  • Lisa Borders Time's Up

    Time's Up President Lisa Borders Resigns

    Lisa Borders has resigned as president of Time’s Up, she and the organization announced on Monday. Borders is resigning due to family issues, she said in a statement. Time’s Up COO Rebecca Goldman will now serve as interim CEO. “As Time’s Up continues to grow, I am proud of the work I have done to [...]

  • Keira Knightly as "Rachael Morgan" in

    Film Review: Keira Knightley in 'The Aftermath'

    Less widely seen (and acclaimed) than it deserved to be, James Kent’s debut feature “Testament of Youth” was one of the great recent love-in-wartime dramas, translating the intimate romance and sprawling human tragedy of Vera Brittain’s WWI memoir with a grace and heft worthy of its David Lean allusions. Four years on, it’s not hard [...]

  • Inside Amazon's New Feature Film Strategy

    Amazon's New Film Strategy: Straight-to-Service Titles and Starry Sundance Buys

    It was close to midnight when Amazon Studios chief Jennifer Salke got the text. The company had failed in its quest to acquire “Brittany Runs a Marathon,” a body image dramedy that captivated Salke when she saw it at Sundance. A sales agent on the project messaged her to say that a competitor offered a [...]

  • Alfonso Cuaron71st Annual Writers Guild Awards,

    Alfonso Cuarón on Academy's 'Inevitable' Reversal on Televised Oscar Categories

    Alfonso Cuarón isn’t exactly surprised that the Academy reversed its decision and will now air all the Oscar categories during the live show on Sunday. Feb. 24. Calling the decision “inevitable,”Cuarón tells Variety that he thinks the Academy should take things even further. “Let’s stop calling them technical categories!” he told Variety on Sunday night [...]

  • TorinoFilmLab Announces Selections for 2019 ScriptLab

    TorinoFilmLab Announces Selections for 2019 ScriptLab (EXCLUSIVE)

    The TorinoFilmLab has announced the 20 feature projects and five story editor trainees who have been selected to take part in the 2019 edition of ScriptLab, an initiative focused on the development of fiction feature film scripts in early development stage. Beginning in March, this year’s participants will team up with filmmakers from around the [...]

  • Alita Battle Angel

    North American Box Office Declines From Last Year With Weak Presidents Day Weekend

    “Alita: Battle Angel” easily won a tepid Presidents Day weekend with a $34.2 million at 3,790 North American locations, estimates showed Monday. Overall domestic moviegoing for 2019 has plunged 22.1% to $1.24 billion as of Monday, according to Comscore. That’s $350 million below the same date a year ago and the lowest figure at this [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content