Berlin-based sales agent Films Boutique expands their slate for the upcoming Berlin Film Festival with global sales rights on “Last and First Men,” from the late Icelandic-born filmmaker-composer Jóhann Jóhannsson, which will world premiere in the Berlinale Special section.
With narration by Tilda Swinton, “Last and First Men” juxtaposes a science-fiction story written in 1930 by Olaf Stapledon, and a haunting musical score with filmed images of the “Spomenik,” futuristic, abstract stone monuments erected during the communist era in the former Yugoslav republics. The narrator describes the life and society of a dying race of humans, while taking us through a landscape of surreal and phantasmagorical monuments filmed in 16mm black and white.
The deal was negotiated between producer Thor Sigurjonsson of Zik Zak Film and Films Boutique’s COO Gabor Greiner.
Sigurjonsson said: “Jóhann Jóhannsson first discussed this project with me back in 2012 when he was about to embark on the first shooting of the brutalist monuments in former Yugoslavia. With Jóhann´s continued success as a film composer, we kept working on it between his other projects. Fine-tuning the visual editing, bringing in great people to the team.
“Just before his passing, we were about to start on the final music for the film. Sometimes the longer you work on things the more relevant to the times they actually become. It really does feel that ‘Last and First Men’ is more relevant to our time than ever. With the rise of right-wing populism, the lean toward totalitarianism, and the climate change challenges the planet is now facing. the ‘message from the future’ seems very relevant now.”
Jóhannsson was a prolific composer, who wrote music for a wide array of media. His work is notable for its blending of classical instrumentation with electronic elements. He scored a number of films, including Denis Villeneuve’s “Prisoners” (2013), “Sicario” (2015), the score of which was nominated for all major awards, and “Arrival” (2016), which earned him Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations. His other notable film credits include James Marsh’s Stephen Hawking biopic “The Theory of Everything” (2014), for which he won a Golden Globe Award for original score.