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Cannes: Hirokazu Kore-eda’s ‘Shoplifters’ Sells to Magnolia (EXCLUSIVE)

Magnolia Pictures has picked up North American rights to “Shoplifters,” the acclaimed new drama from Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda, Variety has learned.

The film is in competition at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and marks the director’s seventh time appearing at the prestigious French gathering for cinephiles. “Shoplifters” has garnered strong reviews for its humanist look at a family living on the margins. Variety’s Maggie Lee, for instance, wrote that Kore-eda “makes a mature and heart-wrenching return to his socially-conscious dramas,” while IndieWire’s David Ehrlich declared that “Shoplifters” is “the very best of the writer-director’s delicate, deceptive, and profoundly moving dramas about the forces that hold a family together (or don’t).”

The film follows a petty thief named Osamu who comes across a little girl who is struggling to survive in the freezing cold. He’s eventually able to convince his wife to take care of the child after learning of the hardships she faces. It’s a strain because of the family’s lack of money, but beyond having another mouth to feed, their bonds are tested after an unexpected event unearths devastating secrets.

“In a long career of incredible peaks, Hirokazu Kore-eda has delivered one of his best works,” said Magnolia president Eamonn Bowles in a statement. “‘Shoplifters’ is an incredible story that deals with familial bonds in a way I’ve never seen before.”

The pick-up comes as Magnolia is currently enjoying strong box office success with “RBG,” its documentary about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The company’s recent releases include the Oscar-nominated “I Am Not Your Negro”  and last year’s Cannes Palme d’Or winner “The Square.”

“I am very happy to hear that Magnolia has come on board the film,” Kore-eda said in a statement. “The reaction at Cannes has been much greater than we hoped and now that the strong Magnolia team is on board, I cannot wait to have the film shown to audiences in North America.”

Kore-eda wrote and edited the film in addition to directing it. “Shoplifters” was produced by Kaoru Matsuzaki, Akihiko Yose, and Hijiri Taguchi. Executive producers are Takashi Ishihara, Tom Yoda, and Yasuhito Nakae.

The deal was negotiated by Magnolia senior VP of acquisitions John Von Thaden, with Eva Diederix of Wild Bunch and CAA Media Finance representing the filmmakers.

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