Cannes sensation “EO,” which tells the story of a donkey’s life, has been acquired for North America by Sideshow and Janus Films. The film is the latest collaboration for the U.S. distribution duo that brought this year’s best international feature Oscar winner, “Drive My Car,” to audiences Stateside.
Directed by Jerzy Skolimowski, “EO” shared the Cannes Jury Prize with Félix Van Groeningen and Charlotte Vandermeersch’s “The Eight Mountains.”
The film, a word-of-mouth hit on the Croisette, shares a vision of modern Europe through the prism of a gray donkey, who meets all sorts of people on his life’s path, experiences joy and pain, as well as disasters and unexpected bliss — all without losing his beautiful innocence. Upon accepting the Jury Prize in Cannes, Polish director Skolimowski thanked “all six” of his donkeys.
The project is the latest collaboration between filmmaker and HanWay Films founder Jeremy Thomas and Skolimowski, who have been working together since 1978 when their film “The Shout” won the Grand Prix at Cannes. Sideshow and Janus Films are planning a fall 2022 theatrical release.
“EO” is presented by Skopia Film and Thomas and stars Sandra Drzymalska, Lorenzo Zurzolo, Mateusz Kosciukiewicz and Isabelle Huppert. It was produced by Ewa Piaskowska and Skolimowski. Eileen Tasca is the Italian co-producer, while Thomas is the executive producer. The screenplay was written by Piaskowska and Skolimowski.
Sold globally by Thomas’s HanWay, “EO” has been picked up by ARP for France, as well as The Searchers (Benelux), I Wonder (Italy), A Contracorriente (Spain), BFI Distribution (U.K. & Ireland), Odeon (Greece), Bir (Turkey), Nitrato (Portugal), Front Row (Middle East), DDDREAM (China), Fine Films (Japan), Applause (Taiwan) and Pictureworks (India).
Sideshow and Janus Films helped Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s “Drive My Car” — which premiered in Cannes in 2021 — to four Oscar nominations in total, including best picture, director and adapted screenplay. It was the first Japanese film ever nominated for best picture and grossed over $2.3 million in North America, while sweeping critics’ awards. It also won the Gotham Award, Golden Globe, BAFTA and Independent Spirit Award for best international feature.
U.S. theatrical distributor Sideshow was set up in 2021 by former IFC Films boss Jonathan Sehring to focus on “visionary” fare. Meanwhile, Janus Films specializes in bringing international art-house movies Stateside.
In a joint statement, Sideshow and Janus Films said: “We are proud to bring ‘EO’ to North American audiences. This epic journey, seen through a donkey’s eyes, will give hope to audiences during our troubling times, and reflects not only Jerzy Skolimowski’s love of animals, but of the world. We are looking forward to showing this film — designed to be watched in a crowded theater — to the biggest audience possible this fall.”
Thomas added: “Jerzy Skolimowski, Ewa Piaskowska and I are excited to work with a forward-thinking distribution group who absolutely love ‘EO.’ We’re delighted to be working with Sideshow and Janus Films after such wonderful recognition at Cannes of Jerzy and his enchanting donkeys.”
The deal was negotiated by Hanway on behalf of the filmmakers with Janus Films and Sideshow.