German sales company Pluto Film has taken world sales outside Switzerland on Swiss director Caterina Mona’s timely immigration-themed drama “Semret” ahead of its world premiere in the Locarno Film Festival’s Piazza Grande section.
The titular character of the film, of which Variety is launching the trailer (watch above), is an Eritrean single mother living in Zurich who works in a hospital while studying to be a midwife. Semret becomes pressured by her teenage daughter, named Joe, to learn more about her origins, which is a taboo subject. But in order not to lose all that she loves, she is forced to confront her wartime past and the sheltered life she has built for herself in Switzerland.
“Semret is first and foremost a film about a mother and a daughter,” the director said in her production notes. “The daughter’s emancipation causes changes in the mother,” she added, noting that “this topic is accessible even to an audience that has not experienced the war, because we are all someone’s child!”
Produced by Switzerland’s prominent Michela Pini via her Cinédokké shingle and by Pascal Trächslin, CEO of Basel-based production and distribution outfit Cineworx, the film stars Lula Mebrahtu in the title role, Hermela Tekleab as her daughter Joe, Teddy Teclebrhan, and Manuela Biedermann.
“Semret” marks the fist feature for Caterina Mona who lives and works in Zurich and whose short “Lost” screened in Locarno’s Leopards of Tomorrow section. Mona is also a film editor who, among other titles, handled editing duties on “Cercando Camille” by Bindu de Stoppani which screened at the Rome Film Festival.
The film is a co-production between Cineworx, which will release in Switzerland, Filmproduktion Basel and RSI Radiotelevisione svizzera.
“We are so proud that this wonderful debut film will be shown on the Piazza Grande in Locarno and we thank festival director Giona A. Nazzaro and his team for the selection,” the producers said in a statement. “And we are happy to have Pluto Film on board, a world sales that will take care of the film with great commitment and passion,” they added.
“Semret” offers an engaging and personal story that deals with global conflicts in a deeply human way and works perfectly with Pluto´s line-up,” said Pluto Film CEO Daniela Cölle.
That lineup includes German director Bettina Blümner’s Blummer’s “Vamos a la Playa,” Serbian helmer Radivoje Andrić’s “How I Learned to Fly,” and “A Vanishing Fog” from Colombia’s Augusto Sandino.
“What I found particularly strong about the film is the depiction of an emotionally charged mother-daughter relationship, which is challenged by traumas from the past and the longing for a better future,” Cölle went on to underline. “As it deals with universal themes like identity, family, and belonging, we believe that audiences across the globe will resonate with the film.”