France’s Bac Films has boarded a pair of politically engaged Middle Eastern films from women directors: Sepideh Farsi’s animated feature “The Siren” and Kaouther Ben Hania’s “The Man Who Sold His Skin.”
“The Siren” is produced by Les Films d’Ici, the banner behind “Waltz With Bashir” and “Funan,” and co-produced by Luxembourg’s Bac Cinéma, Germany’s Katuh Studio and Belgium’s Lunanime.
“Siren,” set in 1980, unfolds in Abadan, the capital of the Iranian oil industry where locals are resisting an Iraqi siege. The film follows the journey of 14-year-old Omid who has braved the siege and stayed in the city with his grandfather, waiting for his elder brother to return from the front line. Omid tries to save his family using an abandoned boat he finds in Abadan’s port.
Bac Films is handling international sales, on top of co-producing, and is showing a teaser of the film at Cannes’ market. Marie Garrett, VP of international sales at Bac Films, said “The Siren” was in the same vein as Raúl de la Fuente and Damian Nenow’s “Another Day of Life,” a gripping animated features that follows the three-month-long journey of Polish reporter Ryszard Kapuscinski across war-torn Angola.
Ben Hania’s (“Beauty and the Dogs”) sophomore outing, “The Man Who Sold His Skin,” stars Monica Bellucci and Yahya Mahay.
The film follows the journey of Sam Ali, a Syrian man who fled to Lebanon to escape the Syrian war, hoping to eventually join his lover in Paris. Stuck in Lebanon without any travel documents, Ali starts freeloading in art galleries in Beirut where he meets a famous American artist who turns Sam into a sought-after artwork by tattooing a visa on his back.
“The Man Who Sold His Skin” also stars Dea Leane, Koen de Bouw and Wim Delvoye. The film is being produced by Tanit Films, Cinétéléfilms and Guillaume Rambourg, and is co-produced by Kwassa Films, Laika Films, Twenty Twenty Vision, Metafora Prods. and Sunnyland Films.
Garrett described “The Man Who Sold His Skin” as a political tale showing that in today’s world it’s easier to travel as a work of art than as a human being.
“The Man Who Sold His Skin” will shoot this summer and will be delivered next spring.
At Cannes, Bac Films has French distribution rights to Jessica Hausner’s “Little Joe,” which is playing in competition.