“Natural Light,” a portrait of the attrition and atrocity of war set at a benighted village in occupied Western Soviet Union in 1943, has clinched its first sales as Paris-based Luxbox rolls out the Berlin Competition player at the European Film Market.

Nour Films, whose past pickups include Berlin Golden Bear winner “Touch Me Not,” has closed rights to France.

Nour will open “Natural Light” “with great conviction and pleasure” on at least 60 prints in second half 2021, said Nour Films Patrick Sibourd.

Luxbox has also licensed “Natural Light” to Benelux (“Cherry Pickers”) and Greece (“One From the Heart”). Vertigo Media will release the feature in Hungary. Further licensing deals are in negotiation, said Luxbox founders Fiorella Moretti and Hédi Zardi.

Lead produced by Hungary’s Campfilm, and co-produced by Latvia’s Mistrus Media, France’s Lilith Films, Germany’s  Propellerfilm, Belgium’s Novak Prod. and Hungary’s Proton Cinema, “Natural Light” follows a corporal, István Semetka, drafted into a Hungarian unit which has accompanied German troops invading Russia, his unit’s mission to locate and kill Russian partisans hiding in the nearby woodlands.

Attentive to detail and faces, – director Denes Nagy cut his teeth making documentaries – the film follows Semetka as his unit takes up lodging in a local village. It is later caught in an mortal ambush, taking a path out of the village suggested by the local mayor, leaving Semetka in charge of survivors.  When a sergeant major arrives to take over command, his reprisal against the villagers captures the inhuman horror of war. Semetka simply watches on, dazed, having done nothing to stop the tragedy.

“I wanted to observe a man who is not fully aware of what choices he must face,” Nagy has said.
“What are the things that lead him to becoming part of a killing? What choices didn’t he make on the way? There is no clear answer to this,” he added.

“Some of the images stayed with me for days (and probably will stay with me), and the urgency and sense of place and time that Nagy manages to convey is truly remarkable,” said Huub Roelvink at Cherry Pickers.

“Taking into account a lot of crucial events happening every day in all our countries, the film reminds us to question ourselves: Despite our weaknesses should we take a stand and fight or remain silent? When do we lose our dignity? said Lefteris Adamidis at One From the Heart.

Fiorella Moretti and Hédi Zardi, Luxbox founders, called the deals a “promising EFM start for this remarkable debut. An absorbing WWII film that’s provoking word of mouth since its screenings.”