Following what’s understood to have been a competitive process with wide interest, Picturehouse Entertainment has swooped for U.K./Eire rights. I Wonder has bought the film for Italy, and Real Fiction are on board for Germany. The film is sold internationally by The Match Factory.
“Never Gonna Snow Again” world premiered in Venice on Sept. 7 to critical acclaim. The film tells the story of masseur Zhenia, who hails from the Ukrainian city of Pripyat, which was deeply affected by the nearby Chernobyl blast. Zhenia enters the lives of the rich but troubled residents of a bland, walled-off community in Poland, where he begins to heal them with his hands and companionship, and changes their lives for good.
The film — which has also been selected by Poland as its submission for the 2021 Oscars — is directed and co-written by Szumowska, the prolific auteur behind “Body,” “In The Name Of” and “The Other Lamb,” with her regular collaborator Englert, who also co-directs and serves as cinematographer. The film features an unforgettable turn from Alec Utgoff, who appeared in the most recent season of Netflix’s “Stranger Things” as Dr. Alexei. The film has a strong Polish cast, including Maja Ostaszewska, Agata Kulesza, Weronika Rosati, Katarzyna Figura, Andrzej Chyra and Łukasz Simlat.
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Producers are Agnieszka Wasiak and Mariusz Włodarski for Lava Films, and Viola Fügen and Michael Weber for Match Factory Productions. Kino Swiat will release the film in Poland.
“Never Gonna Snow Again” was well received by critics in Venice, with Variety’s Guy Lodge noting, “Szumowska has become a festival-circuit fixture, though commercially, a major arthouse breakthrough has thus far eluded her. Perhaps that could come with ‘Never Gonna Snow Again,’ which may be immersed in particular strains and stresses of urban Polish society, but should resonate universally with its evocation of haves-and-have-nots tension, supported by droll comedy and lavishly atmospheric intrigue.”
In a recent interview with Variety, Szumowska said the film draws on the directors’ experiences of growing up in a communist Poland that rushed head-long toward capitalism in the 1990s. (The character of Zhenia was inspired by a masseur the duo share with Oscar-winning director Paweł Pawlikowski.)
“They don’t want to feel connected to the past, because they are so deeply inspired by and focused on the West,” said Englert.
Thania Dimitrakopoulou, head of sales at The Match Factory, said, “It’s wonderful and hopeful to be on Lido again and thanks to Venice IFF sharing our films with audiences in cinemas on the big screen and getting such great feedback on ‘Never Gonna Snow Again.’ The response by press and industry has been great and we look forward to working with these enthusiastic distributors on Malgorzata’s film.”
Clare Binns, joint managing director of Picturehouse, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to be back at one of the great international festivals celebrating the power of cinema on the big screen. This glorious film demonstrates European storytelling at its most creative and imaginative, and Picturehouse Entertainment is delighted to be bringing it back to U.K. audiences and to cinemas where it truly belongs.”
Andrea Romeo, founder of I Wonder Pictures, called the film “charming and astonishing.”
“Just like a massage, it brings you back in touch with body sensations and mind digressions. I Wonder Pictures is very proud to bring ‘Never Gonna Snow Again’ to the movie theaters,” said Romeo.
Joachim Kühn of Real Fiction added, “Real Fiction is very happy to present ‘Never Gonna Snow Again’ in Germany and the German premiere with more German festivals will follow soon.”