UniFrance Rendez-Vous: Memento’s ‘The Apparition,’ from France’s Xavier Giannoli, Sells Most of World (EXCLUSIVE)

‘Claire Darling’ adds robust sales for Memento Films Intl., one of the world’s busiest arthouse-indie film sales agents

PARIS — Handled by Memento Films Intl., and one of the best-selling of films coming out of France in early 2018, Xavier Giannoli’s “The Apparition” has been licensed to most of the world. An international trailer, to which Variety has had exclusive access, suggests some reasons why.

Screening at the UniFrance Rendez-Vous, “The Apparition’s” roll-out around the world comes as MFI has also kicked off robust new sales on “Claire Darling,” directed by Julie Bertuccelli (“The Tree”) and starring Catherine Deneuve and daughter Chiara Mastroianni in an on-screen mother-daughter drama, which has closed deals for 10 of the 13 biggest territories in the world.

With Asghar Farhadi’s “Everybody Knows,” toplining Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem, and Nuri Bilge Ceylon’s “The Wild Pear Tree” in post-production, and three titles at Sundance – Nicolas Pesce’s “Piercing,” “Marc Turtletaub’s “Puzzle,” Warwick Thornton’s “Sweet Country” – Memento Films Intl. has grown into one of the busiest arthouse sales companies out, whether selling medium-sized, high-profile director-driven independent films or cutting-edge low-budget titles from emerging talent.

A building religious mystery psychological thriller, “The Apparition” begins with Jacques (Vincent Lindon) in shock at the death of his photographer in a bomb explosion which he left him deaf in one ear. His whole world out of kilter, he returns from the Middle East to France where he is charged by the Vatican to head up a canonical investigation. It investigates a young French novice, Anna, living in the mountains of South-East France, who claims the Virgin Mary appeared to her on the mountainside, imploring mankind to aid those suffering.

“Above all else, the film is an investigation about a mystery: Is this young woman who claims to have had an apparition lying? But the factual, procedural investigation opens up to another dimension,” Xiannoli told Variety in an interview.

“What I want is facts, proofs,” Jacques insists as the investigation flounders, in a scene included in the trailer.

“The Apparition” delivers on that count, though not quite as audiences imagine. But, above all, it records Jacques’ journey from darkness and intellectual confinement – caught in a grey Rome, and dark Vatican chambers in the trailer’s opening scene, towards light – seen in the blue skies and open spaces of the French mountains, as Jacques comes to an kind of understanding of a larger miracle, regarding mankind.

“The Apparition” has closed all major territories in Europe – Germany (Filmperlen), U.K. (Mubi), Italy (Cinema SRL), and Spain (Vercine).

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Shanna Besson

MFI has also licensed the biggest two territories in Scandinavia – Denmark with 41 Shadows and Sweden with Folkets Bio – as well as Benelux (Versus Productions), Switzerland (Praesens), Austria (Filmladen), Ireland (Wildcard, except SVOD rights, ), Iceland (Bio Paradis), Baltics (BestFilm), Portugal (Alambique), and Greece-Cyprus (Spentzos).

A specialist in European arthouse drama, Brazil’s Mares Filmes has taken all Latin America in partnership with Argentina’s CDI and Mexico’s Cinema Nueva Era. Most major territories in Eastern Europe have also been licensed, including Poland (KinoSwiat), ex-Yugoslavia (Megacom), Bulgaria (Bulgaria Film Vision), Hungary (Vertigo), Czech Republic (Artcam) and Romania (Macondo).

Memento Films Distribution will release “The Apparition” in France on Feb. 14. It is produced by Olivier Delbosc’s Curiosa Films and Fidélité Films, which also backed “Marguerite.”

“The Apparition” marks Giannoli’s first film after 2015 Venice Competition player “Marguerite,” which drew some rave reviews – Variety called it “exquisite satire.” It won lead Catherine Frot best actress Cesar and Lumière Awards.

Described as a light-hearted drama with fantasy elements, “Claire Darling” stars Deneuve as a woman who. convinced it’s her last day on earth, conducts a garage sale to get rid of objects she has collected. These stir vivid memories.

In a welter of new sales, MFI has closed, among major territories, Germany (Neue Visionen), Australia (Palace), China (Hualu Publishing), Italy (Movies Inspired) and Japan (Kino Films).

Much of Latin America has now been sold: Mexico (Cinema Nueva Era), Argentina (Distribution Company), Brazil (Mares Filmes again) and Colombia (Cine Colombia). Further deals take in Denmark (41 Shadows), Finland (Cinema Mondo) and Sweden (Folkets Bio) in Scandinavia.

Produced by Paris-based Les Films du Poisson (“Carré 35”), “Claire Darling” adapts Lynda Rutledge’s “Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Sale.” Other deals close include Austria (Filmladen), Benelux (September Film), Canada (MK2-Mile End), Greece (Seven), Hungary (Hungaricom), Inflights (Encore), Israel (Lev), Portugal (Leopardo), Switzerland (Frenetic), Taiwan  (Swallow Wings) and Turkey (Fabula).

In early pre-sales on “Claire Darling,” announced at the Cannes Festival, MFI clinched Germany (Neue Visionen), Benelux (September Film), Switzerland (Frenetic), Austria (Filmladen), Greece (Seven), Israel (Lev) and Turkey (Fabula), Spain (Karma) and Australia (Palace).

Pyramide will release “Claire Darling” in France.

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Memento Films