IFC Films Acquires Holocaust Drama ‘The Painted Bird’ (EXCLUSIVE)

IFC Films has acquired U.S. rights to “The Painted Bird,” the critically acclaimed and controversial adaptation of the Jerzy Kosinski novel. The film will be the Czech Republic’s Oscar entry for the foreign language category at the upcoming Academy Awards.

Directed, written and produced by Václav Marhoul (“Smart Philip”), the film is an unsparing look at the horrors of the Holocaust. Its violence reportedly prompted audience walkouts at the Venice Film Festival and the Toronto Film Festival, but also drew rave reviews for its uncompromising depiction of evil.

In a five star review, the Guardian’s Xan Brooks acknowledged the movie was a tough sit, but added, “I can state without hesitation that this is a monumental piece of work and one I’m deeply glad to have seen. I can also say that I hope to never cross its path again.”

Variety‘s Guy Lodge also praised the film, writing, “‘The Painted Bird’ is inarguably effective and immersive, its hard, unyielding gaze backed up by the muscularity of its craft.”

Marhoul spent over a decade getting the film produced. In a statement, he expressed gratitude to IFC Films for acquiring the movie. “They have demonstrated a deep, sensitive understanding of the message of the movie, which is so important in today’s volatile world,” he said. “I deeply believe the movie’s advocacy of tolerance, fellow-feeling and community must reach American audiences. IFC will make that happen.”

Popular on Variety

The film follows the journey of a young boy, entrusted by his persecuted parents to an elderly foster mother. After the woman dies, he is left on his own, wandering through the countryside, in a struggle to survive. Much of the story unfolds during the chaotic final days of World War II and, against that backdrop, the film depicts the brutality meted out by ruthless soldiers, both Russian and German. The film’s international cast includes Petr Kotlár, Udo Kier, Lech Dyblik, Jitka Čvančarová, Stellan Skarsgard, Harvey Keitel, Julian Sands, Aleksey Kravchenko, and Barry Pepper.

Arianna Bocco executive VP of acquisitions and productions at IFC Films called the film, “a brilliant cinematic achievement with a fiercely accomplished cast to match.”

In a separate statement, Lisa Schwartz, co-president of IFC Films added, “IFC Films is committed to providing thought-provoking and challenging films, and this is a prime example of maintaining this core mission and continuing our legacy for nearly 20 years now.”

IFC Films has demonstrated a talent for taking indie productions that other studios might have dismissed as too risky and helping them find audiences. Its past releases include such provocative and challenging works as Lars von Trier’s “The House That Jack Built,” Jennifer Kent’s “The Nightingale,” and Olivier Assayas’s “Personal Shopper.”

“The Painted Bird” is a Silver Screen production in co-production with Czech Television, Directory Films, Radio and Television Slovakia, Certicon Group, Innogy, PubRes, Monte Rosso Production, with producer Václav Marhoul and co-producers, Eduard Kučera, Milada Kučera, Igor Savychenko, Vladimír Mařík, Karel Kraus, Zuzana Mistríková, Ľubica Orechovská, Richard Kaucký, and Alexander Kushaev. The film was supported by the Czech Film Fund, Slovak Audiovisual Fund, Ukrainian State Film Agency, and Creative Europe – MEDIA.

In a joint statement, Celluloid Dreams president Hengameh Panahi and vice president Charlotte Mickie said they were delighted to work with IFC. “Their curation is extremely astute, and they have unparalleled expertise with important, provocative movies. We look forward to this new adventure and to American audiences responding to a 21st century masterpiece.”

The deal for the film was negotiated by Bocco on behalf of IFC Films. CAA Media Finance and Celluloid Dreams represented the filmmakers.

More Film

  • Halelluja

    Berlin Fest Screens Rare Prints of King Vidor Classics in Retrospective Sidebar

    American director-producer-screenwriter King Vidor (1894-1982), whose long and notable career parallels the history of Hollywood filmmaking, is the subject of a 35-film retrospective at the Berlinale, curated by Rainer Rother, artistic director of the Deutsche Kinematek and head of the Retrospective program. The films, chosen from five decades, will be screened in the best extant [...]

  • Beasts Clawing at Straws Review

    'Beasts Clawing at Straws': Film Review

    Cheap gangsters, duplicitous dragon ladies, a mute tattooed assassin, get-rich-quick schlubs looking to score and a comical detective: “Beasts Clawing at Straws” could just as well be called “Beasts Toying with Clichés” if it weren’t such an amusing, echt Korean romp. Debuting director Kim Yong-hoon acknowledges a certain “Fargo” influence, but there’s also a hint [...]

  • Dev Patel Toronto International Film Festival

    Film News Roundup: Dev Patel to Star in 'Flash Crash' Financial Thriller

    In today’s film news roundup, Dev Patel will portray a market whiz in a “Flash Crash” movie, the late Marty Sklar is honored at UCLA, “The Conversation” is getting a re-release and Ellen Page’s documentary gets a trailer. PROJECT LAUNCH Dev Patel will star in the adaptation of “Flash Crash: A Trading Savant, a Global [...]

  • Police guard the scenery in front

    Mass Shooting in Germany Raises Security Concerns for Berlin Film Festival

    A mass shooting in the West German city of Hanau has raised security concerns for the Berlin Film Festival, which kicks off on Thursday. Local media reports late Wednesday indicate that several people are dead following a shooting. Eight people are believed to have been killed while five others are injured. An unknown assailant is [...]

  • Foto: ©2019 TOM TRAMBOWProjekt: „Lassie Come

    Global Screen Sells 'Lassie Come Home' to More Than 44 Countries (EXCLUSIVE)

    Munich-based world sales company Global Screen has pre-sold the new adaptation of Eric Knight novel’s “Lassie Come Home,” whose canine character was first brought to the big screen more than 75 years ago, to more than 44 countries. Territories include Italy (Lucky Red), France (Mediawan Rights), Scandinavia (Angel Scandinavia), Israel (Film House), CIS (Volga Film), [...]

  • Paramount Players

    Paramount Players Loses Executives Matt Dines, Ali Bell

    Paramount Players has lost two of its executives, with Matt Dines and Ali Bell leaving their posts as executive vice presidents of development and production. A spokesman for Paramount told Variety that there are no plans to shutter the three-year-old division in the wake of the departures. Wyck Godfrey, Paramount’s motion pictures group president, remains [...]

  • Anya Taylor Joy Emma Premiere

    Anya Taylor-Joy on Playing Jane Austen's Clever, Callous Protagonist in 'Emma'

    It was an evening of elegance at the Los Angeles premiere of Focus Features’ “Emma” on Tuesday night. The red carpet was lined with pastel floral arrangements at the DGA Theater, priming visitors to be transported to the ornate pageantry of Georgian-era England, as depicted in this new adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic tale. Anya [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content