Berlinale Golden Bear winner “Touch Me Not,” a daring and explicit exploration of intimacy and sex, has clinched a raft of sales in Europe and Asia.
Daniela Elstner’s Doc & Film has sold Romanian director Adina Pintilie’s film to Italy (I-Wonder), Israel (Lev Cinemas), Portugal (Leopardo), Poland (New Horizons), Benelux (Contact Film), Switzerland (Xenix), Taiwan (Swallow Wings), Ukraine (Kinove), and Turkey (Mars Media). Negotiations are at an advanced stage for Greece, the Baltics, Hungary and Ex-Yugoslavia.
“Touch Me Not” was produced by Manekino Film, Rohfilm Prods., Pink, AgitProp and Les Films de l’Étranger production. Nour Films will release the movie in France.
In addition to nabbing the fest’s top prize, “Touch Me Not” also won the Berlin Film Festival’s award for best first feature. The film follows the eye-opening journey of an Englishwoman grappling with intimacy issues with the help of people guiding her toward being comfortable with her own and others’ bodies.
Blurring fiction and non-fiction, “Touch Me Not” divided audiences and critics at the Berlinale. Variety’s Jay Weissberg described the film as a “nonlinear exploration of intimacy [that] seeks to challenge notions of beauty while opening viewers up to a range of sexual pleasures.”
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When receiving the awards at Berlin, Pintilie said that she was caught off guard and that the film importantly “challenged accepted perceptions of beauty.” Pintilie previously directed critically acclaimed experimental shorts such as “Oxigen,” which played at Rotterdam and Warsaw.
The triumph of “Touch Me Not” in Berlin has been perceived as a celebration of women and of the values promoted by the #MeToo movement. But “regardless of the awards in Berlin, it will be a challenging job to bring ‘Touch Me Not’ [to] theaters,” Gerard Huisman at Contact Film said, adding that he and his team “really believe in this film – the strength, the beauty, the ‘progressive’ cinema. And overall, it has an intensely humanistic approach.”
Andrea Romeo at I Wonder said the film delivered “not only a visual but a sensory and in some way physical experience….This film reminds us of the power and potential held by the film camera in the narration of human beings and their humanity.”
Elstner acknowledged that selling “Touch Me Not” had been a “real challenge,” requiring “a great deal of subtle discussions and work to introduce it to the buyers.” But the film was snapped up in some territories even ahead of its win at the Berlinale. “Some distributors acquired the film before the awards because they are convinced that their work also consists [of] bringing such an important film as ‘Touch Me Not’ theatrically to their country,” Elstner said.
She added that, for a film like “Touch Me Not,” it was crucial to choose the right partner in each territory, one capable of handling the film properly and ensuring that it reached the largest possible audience.