Wild Bunch and Le Pacte are joining forces on Egyptian-Austrian director A.B Shawky’s drama “Yomeddine,” the sole feature debut set to world premiere in competition at the upcoming Cannes Film Festival.
Wild Bunch has taken international sales on the feature, while Le Pacte has acquired French distribution rights.
“Yomeddine,” produced by Dina Emam at Egypt’s Desert Highway Pictures and Mohamed Hefzy and Daniel Ziskind at Cairo-based production company Film Clinic, is an adventure-filled drama about a Christian Egyptian leper, Beshay, who lives in an aging leper colony in the middle of nowhere. After the death of wife, he bravely decides to leave the colony for the first time since he was abandoned there as a child, and embarks, along with his Muslim apprentice and beloved donkey, on a journey across Egypt to his hometown to find out why his father never kept his promise to return.
Reacting to Cannes’s official announcement, Shawky thanked “the cast and crew who endured the difficult conditions, lack of money, unusual distant locations and language barriers.” He also thanked his wife, Emam, who produced “Yomeddine” and “believed in this film and couldn’t have been a better partner to make this a reality.”
A NYU Tisch graduate, Shawky previously directed several politically-minded shorts including “The Road to Atalia” about an Egyptian family destroyed by the loss of three sons who attempted to migrate to Italy, and the documentary short “Martyr Friday” about dramatic events during Egypt’s revolution in 2011.
Cannes Film Festival’s artistic director Thierry Fremaux described the film as “reminiscent of a Italian neorealist film.” “(“Yomeddine”) sheds light on the depths of Egypt. It’s a unique and poetic work of art. And as many films do, it enlightens us by pondering on who we are, who are the others, what the world is like,” said Fremaux, who rarely selects feature debuts to compete at the festival.
“Yomeddine” is one of the four films competing which Le Pacte will release in France. The three other films on Le Pacte’s distribution slate are David Robert Mitchell’s “Under The Silver Lake,” Matteo Garrone’s “Dogman,” Hirokazu Kore-eda’s “Shoplifters.”
Jean Labadie, Le Pacte’s founder and president, previously worked with Ziskind on Egyptian director Marwan Hamed’s critically acclaimed feature debut “The Yacoubian Building” in 2006, when he was at the helm of Bac Films.
Wild Bunch has five other films slated for Cannes, notably Jean-Luc Godard’s “The Image Book,” Kore-Eda Hirokazu’s “Shoplifters” and Nadine Labaki’s “Capharnaum” which will world premiere in competition; Bi Gan’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” in Un Certain Regard; and Gaspar Noe’s “Climax” in Directors’ Fortnight.