Matteo Lovadina’s Paris-based sales company Reel Suspects has rolled out first international major territory sales on Michael Matthews’ “Five Fingers for Marseilles,” which world premiered to large critical acclaim at the Toronto Festival.
Written and produced by Sean Drummond, and hailed by Variety, in highly positive review, as “an imaginative commingling of Spaghetti Western elements and post-Apartheid South African melodrama,” “Five Fingers For Marseilles” has been sold by Reel Suspects to The Jokers for France, top quality regional distributor Non Stop Entertainment for Scandinavia and the Baltic States, The Klockworx Co. for Japan, which has a strong line in original action-adventure thrillers, and Astro for South East Asian pay TV distribution.
In a previously announced deal negotiated by XYZ Films, Uncork’d Entertainment acquired North American rights. It plans a September 2018 theatrical release.
Indigenous Film Distribution and pay TV network M-Net will distribute in South Africa, Indigenous releasing the film in South African cinemas on April 6.
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Inspired by the sweeping plains, rocky outcrops and township communities Drummond and Matthews encountered on a trip through South Africa’s Eastern Cape and Free State, “Five Fingers For Marseilles” channels classic Western archetypes – a stoic brooding anti-hero capable of larger-than-life deeds, the imposing natural backdrop, brotherhood, brutality, a sense of modernity leaving the hero behind – and sets them in a modern South Africa post-apartheid context, drawing insistently on local stars, culture and sometimes language.
After Toronto, “Five Fingers” has screened at Austin’s Fantastic Fest, BFI London Film Festival, and Palm Springs.
“’Five Fingers For Marseilles’ is an extraordinary film, that confirms South Africa as an extremely creative country. Michael’s work is proving to attract buyers and festival programmers as well,” said Reel Suspects’ Lovadina.
He added: “We are proud to work on this film. Beyond all the Western inspirations, the audience is captivated by the plot, and stays entertained by the stunning climax moments and evocative landscapes.”
Just as the classic Western, “Five Fingers for Marseilles” focuses on a time period which represents the forging of a modern nation – Apartheid, in an extended prologue, when the Five Fingers kids gang stand up to Colonial oppression – and post-Apartheid as one, Tau, a hot-headed kid who shot two policemen then fled – returns seeking peace. But, with the town under a new threat – the terrorizing theatrical gangster Ghost – Tau has to unite most of the Five Feathers to fight for the town’s freedom once again.
The best Westerns always had social or political undercurrents, the filmmakers told Variety in 2013 but “story is king.” Tracking Tau’s spiritual journey from unfettered individualism to community action – another Western trope – “Five Feathers For Marseilles” has been greeted by critics as both a slow-boiling thriller building to an explosive finish and a redolent movie about modern South Africa questioning ideas of progress and the need for a continual struggle for freedom.
The film is produced by Sean Drummond at Be Phat Motel Film Company, his label with Matthews, and Asger Hussain at Game 7 Films.
“We have screened the film and been chasing this title and we believe that we are right distributor in Japan for this very high concept and beautiful story,” said The Klockworx Co.’s Kana Koido.
The filmmakers added: ”We’re thrilled to be working with Reel Suspects on ‘Five Fingers for Marseilles.’ Their passion for the film and distributor network are beyond compare and we’re looking forward to continuing taking the film to the world with them.”