Austrian director David Wagner’s feature debut “Eismayer,” which has its world premiere in Venice Critics’ Week on Sunday, has been picked up for international sales by Paris-based Loco Films. The trailer for the film debuts here (below).

In a statement, Loco’s chiefs Laurent Danielou and Arnaud Godart said: “From this true and extraordinary story, [Wagner] managed to make a very subtle and cinematic film.”

The film centers on Sergeant Major Eismayer, who is known and feared as the toughest training officer in the Austrian armed forces, ruthless with recruits and unwavering in his discipline, order and macho toughness. But when he starts to fall in love with Falak, a new recruit who unashamedly embraces his homosexuality, Eismayer’s closeted existence is shaken to the core. To a man like Eismayer, loving another man cannot be reconciled with the understanding of what a model soldier should be. Will he choose to protect his badass, tough guy image over all else, or can he follow his heart and his true desire? The film is inspired by a true story.

The film is produced by Arash T. Riahi and Sabine Gruber for Golden Girls Film, whose last co-production, “Once Upon a Time in Venezuela,” premiered 2020 in Sundance, and its film “Born in Evin” won the Perspective Kompass Award at the Berlinale in 2019.

The producers commented: “‘Eismayer’ is truthful, honest filmmaking, raw and poetic at the same time. A story that first tears down our preconceptions about masculinity and strength and then rebuilds them in a new way. This film exudes passion, humanity and a love of life, while exploring emotional conflicts that everybody can identify with – irrespective of sexual orientation.”

The cast includes Gerhard Liebmann, Luka Dimić and Julia Koschitz. The DoP is Serafin Spitzer and the editor is Stephan Bechinger.

“Eismayer” was produced with the support of the Vienna Film Fund, the Austrian Film Institute, Film Industry Support Austria, Land Niederösterreich (Department of Art and Culture), Land Steiermark Cine Art (Department for Culture, European Affairs and Sport), in co-operation with ORF Film/Fernseh-Abkommen, and co-produced with ZDF in association with ARTE.