Paris-based Totem Films has scored a raft of international sales on Iranian directors Behtash Sanaeeha and Maryam Moghaddam’s Berlin Film Festival competition entry, “Ballad of a White Cow.”
“Ballad of a White Cow,” as sales agent Totem notes, is the story of a woman’s struggle for justice, recognition and independence in today’s Tehran. The film, which is being shopped at this week’s European Film Market (EFM), is centred on Mina (Moghaddam), a struggling single mother of a deaf daughter who is devastated to learn that her husband Babak was executed a year earlier for a crime he didn’t commit.
As she battles for a public apology from the judges who served her husband’s death sentence, a stranger, Reza (Alireza Sani Far, “Dressage”), appears on her doorstep, explaining that he has come to repay a debt he owes to Babak. Mina gradually opens up to him, unaware of the terrible secret that ties them together.
Totem has sold the film into Benelux (Cherry Pickers), Brazil (Imovision), Japan (Longride), Spain (Surtsey Films), China (MovieZone Group), France (KMBO), Portugal (Alambique), Scandinavia (Angel), Former Yugoslavia (Megacom), Czech Republic/Slovakia (Artcam Distribution), Greece (Danaos), Poland (Aurora Distribution) and Taiwan (Swallow Wings).
“Ballad of a White Cow” is the second joint effort from Moghaddam and Sanaeeha, who previously co-wrote and co-directed 2018’s multi-prized doc feature “The Invincible Diplomacy of Mr Naderi.” The film is produced by Gholamreza Moosavi and Etienne de Ricaud.
Launched in 2019 by Agathe Valentin, Laure Parleani and Berenice Vincent, sales and production company Totem Films made waves at the Cannes film market in 2020, scoring vast international sales on “Gagarine,” one of the Cannes official selection’s biggest arthouse breakouts.
Totem Films also represents Alice Diop’s “Nous” (We), one of the highest profile titles at this year’s Berlin Encounters section. In June 2020, it announced it was moving into international co-production, tapping Elsa Payen to head up Totem Atelier. Its first documentary, Iris Brey’s “The Female Gaze,” is currently in development.