Nikou’s directorial debut, which opened the Horizons section of the Venice Film Festival and was also a selection in Telluride and Toronto, is the story of a man struggling to recover his memory in the midst of a pandemic that causes widespread amnesia. It will screen this week in competition at the Thessaloniki Film Festival, which runs online Nov. 5-15.
Cohen Media Group took North American rights for “Apples” from CAA and Alpha Violet last month. The film has also sold to France (Bodega Films), Italy (Lucky Red), Greece (Feelgood), Benelux (Filmfreak), Scandinavia (Scanbox Entertainment), Poland (New Horizons), Singapore (Anticipate Pictures), Austria (Filmladen), Switzerland (Trigon Film), Czech Republic (Artcam Films), Eastern Europe (HBO Eastern Europe), and the former Yugoslavia (Fivia MCF). As previously reported, Curzon Artificial Eye acquired distribution rights in Venice for the U.K. and Ireland, while Madman Entertainment scooped up rights for Australia and New Zealand.
The film, which was a critical success in Venice, has proven eerily prescient as it arrives in the midst of a real-world pandemic. Calling it “a testament to the strength of this lonely and aloof tragicomedy’s central allegory that it adapts so well to our pear-shaped times,” Variety chief film critic Peter Debruge wrote in his review: “What might have been the latest oddity of the Greek Weird Wave — or else a surreal collection of live-action ‘The Far Side’ cartoons — instead feels soulfully relevant as reality aligns with the speculative world Nikou imagined.”
“It is a very strange coincidence that I ended up making a film about a pandemic only months before the world went into lockdown,” Nikou told Variety after the announcement by Greece’s Ministry of Culture. “Of course, the world and the pandemic we created for ‘Apples,’ which causes people to lose their memories, is very different from what is happening now. But there are some similarities that the audience will recognize, as ‘Apples’ deals with isolation, loss, and somehow uncertainty about the future, and these issues have additional meanings nowadays. We tried, though, to give an optimistic approach to this topic.”
Cate Blanchett and her team at Dirty Films are executive producers on “Apples,” which is produced by Iraklis Mavroides, Angelo Venetis, Aris Dagios and Nikos Smpiliris of Greece’s Boo Productions and Mariusz Włodarski of Poland’s Lava Films.
A shortlist of 10 films for the international feature film category will be unveiled on Feb. 9, and the five official nominees will be announced on March 15. The 93rd annual Academy Awards will take place on April 25.