Underscoring the benefits of a positive reception off a big festival berth, Marcelo Martinessi’s “Las Herederas” (The Heiresses), a Berlin double Silver Bear winner, has closed a U.S. distribution deal with Distrib Films US and 102 Distribution.
Brooklyn-based, Distrib Films will handle “The Heiresses’” theatrical release.
In further sales made by Paris-based sales agent Luxbox, Aurora has closed Poland on “The Heiresses.” Israel and Australia are now under negotiation, said Fiorella Moretti, Luxbox co-founder.
Winning Berlin Silver Bears for both best actress (Ana Brun) and the Alfred Bauer Prize for innovation, “The Heiresses” was sold by Luxbox at Berlin to Italy (Lucky Red), France (Rouge International), the U.K. (Thunderbird Releasing), Benelux (Contact) and Scandinavia/Baltics (Edge).
In pre-sales, Luxbox cliched deals with Spain (Bteam), Greece (Weird Wave) , Switzerland (Cineworx) and China (Time Vision).
Bowing early in Berlin competition, “The Heiresses” emerged as one of its first frontrunners in critics’ polls.
The film “exquisitely balances character study with shrewd commentary on class, desire, and the lingering privileges of Paraguay’s elite,” Jay Weissberg wrote in his Variety review.
Distributors were struck by the craft of a first feature from Paraguay as well as attracted by a women-centric tale. Fresh for many spectators, the Paraguayan context also lent an extra freshness to a tale that describes in personal terms the passing of an era, which may be all for the good.
Also written by Martinessi, “The Heiresses” awon an award for best competition title from the Fipresci Intl. Federation of Film Critics for its tale of Chela (Brun) a middle-aged member of Paraguay’s well-healed elite who falls on hard times and is forced to find a job after her longtime partner, Chiquita (Margarita Irún) is convicted of fraud. It has gone on to win director and another Fipresci award at this month’s Cartagena Film Festival.
“We were moved and struck by the high sensitivity and intelligence of ‘Las Herederas,’” said Francois Scippa Kohn, president of Distrib Films US.
He went on to say that it is a “perfect movie for the arthouse audience in the U.S.” which is “more and more demanding and looking for singular and nonetheless accessible foreign films.”
Moretti said Luxbox was “thrilled to be working with Distrib Films and 102 Distribution to bring ‘The Heiresses’ to U.S. audiences. Since the Berlinale, Marcelo Martinessi’s first film has been sold around the world, finding passionate distributors in each territory.”
Among foreign-language art films, such a sales volume is increasingly limited to star directors or big festival breakouts, such as “The Heiresses.” Hence the huge competition to snag a selection at May’s Cannes, the biggest festival of all.