Cohen Media Group has acquired North American rights to the Holocaust drama “Persian Lessons,” following its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival, where it has become a buzz title. The film was produced after the lead producers met at a Variety “10 Producers to Watch” event in Cannes in 2018, and decided to work together on the project.
CMG plans to release the film in late 2020. “Persian Lessons” is directed by “House of Sand and Fog” director Vadim Perelman from a script by Ilya Zofin, based on the story “Erfindung Einer Sprache” by Wolfgang Kohlhaase.
Nahuel Pérez Biscayart (“If You Saw His Heart”) plays a Belgian Jew who claims to be Persian when he is rounded up and about to face the firing squad. The terrified prisoner desperately tries to save himself by agreeing to teach Farsi – a language he does not know and thus makes up – to an eager-to-learn Nazi transit camp commandant, portrayed by Lars Eidinger “Clouds of Sils Maria”).
The acquisition was negotiated by John Kochman of CMG and Mathieu Delaunay, head of sales for Paris-based Memento Film Intl.
Peter Debruge of Variety said in his review at Berlin, “Biscayart in particular delivers one of the most deeply identifiable Holocaust-centered performances since Adrien Brody appeared in ‘The Pianist’ nearly two decades earlier.”
Kochman said, “’Persian Lessons’ is a terrific film we’ve been waiting for from Vadim Perelman ever since his amazing debut and we’re thrilled to bring it to a wide audience.”
“Persian Lessons” is produced by Moscow-based Hype Film (Leto), co-produced by Berlin-based LM Media and One Two Films in association with Belarusfilm. In addition to Perelman and Zofin, the producers are Ilya Stewart, Murad Osmann, Pavel Buria, Timur Bekmambetov, and Rauf Atamalibekov. Co-producers are Sol Bondy, Jamila Wenske, Ilya Dzhincharadze, Elizaveta Chalenko, Leonid Shpolskiy, Galina Malysheva, Vladimir Staetski, Mikhail Gilman, and Maria Zatulovskaya.