Paris-based Haut et Court has closed French distribution rights with sales agent Film Factory Entertainment on Victor Erice’s ”Close Your Eyes” (“Cerrar los ojos”), the legendary Spanish director’s return to feature film direction 30 years after Cannes Jury Prize winner “Dream of Light” and a half century on from his milestone debut, “The Spirit of the Beehive.”
“Beehive” is regarded by many critics as one of the greatest Spanish films ever made. “Light” was chosen by the world’s cinematheques as the best film of the 1990s. “Close Your Eyes” reunites Erice with Ana Torrent, a wide-eyed mite in “Beehive.”
One of the most awaited Spanish films of 2023, it will be released in Spain by Avalon Films, the producer-distributor of “Alcarràs.”
“Close Your Eyes” turns on a famed actor who disappears while making a film. Many years later, a TV program airs the final scenes he shot, the beginning and end of a movie directed by his close friend.
Film Factory calls “Close Your Eyes” a “compelling reflection on identity, memory and filmmaking.”
“It is a great achievement for the film to be acquired by Haut et Court in France,” said Film Factory’s managing director Vicente Canales, adding that the deal “will position ‘Close Your Eyes’ as one of the most important films of the year on the independent French market.”
Erice’s new film is a heartbreaking reflection on profound relationships between cinema and life,” Carole Scotta, Haut et Court’s CEO, told Variety.
“We cannot be prouder to be the French distributor of ‘Close Your Eyes,’” she added.
France acts as a bellwether for upscale foreign-language films – both in the caliber of companies which acquire titles for distribution and their subsequent box office results. Haut et Court’s acquisition will merely stoke expectations for further sales on a title which ticks multiple boxes: a star auteur, most probable big fest play; a marketing hook in Erice’s return though, truth to tell, he has consistently made shorter-format work which has dazzled.
In 2002, Variety called Erice’s “mesmerizingly poetic” interlude “Lifeline,” part of anthology “Ten Minutes Older: The Trumpet,” “the most impressive 11 minutes of film unveiled in Cannes this year.”
A gold standard production-distribution house, Haut et Court has won a reputation for handling movies which consecrate their makers, from Laurent Cantet’s Cannes Palme d’Or winner “The Class” to Maren Ade’s “Toni Erdmann.” It drew attention last year nursing Dominik Moll’s gritty procedural “The Night of the 12th,” which won the Toscan du Plantier Award on Feb. 13, to 509,511 ticket sales, despite a generally despondent French box office.
“Close Your Eyes” marks the third Film Factory title released by Haut et Court after Berlin competition entry “The Accused” and Alejandro Amenábar’s “While at War.”
One of the Spanish-speaking world’s most powerful sales agents, Film Factory’s Berlin European Film Market slate also takes in “Blondi,” the directorial debut of actor-writer-producer Dolores Fonzi, an oddball mother-son comedy from “Argentina, 1985” producer La Unión de los Ríos, and “Something Is About to Happen,” low key thriller with surreal black comedic touches from Esparza, a 2012 Cannes Critics’ Week winner (“Aquí y Allá) and 2018 Independent Spirits laureate (“Life and Nothing More”). Further eye-catching titles will be announced shortly.