Philippe Lioret’s French, English and Arab-language drama “Welcome” has been picked up by Film Movement, which it plans to open in the second quarter of 2010. The company’s president Adley Gartenstein negotiated the deal with Film Distribution’s Francois Yon. The film paints a portrait of two men wrestling with their own issues of lost love and alienation, while exploring larger contemporary dilemmas like illegal immigration and covert border crossings.
The film centers on Bilal (Firat Ayverdi), a 17-year-old Kurdish refugee, who has spent the last three months of his life traveling across Europe in an attempt to reunite with his girlfriend who recently emigrated to England. But his journey comes to an abrupt end when he is stopped on the French side of the English Channel. Having decided to swim across, Bilal goes to the local swimming pool to train. It is here he meets Simon (Vincent Lindon), a middle-aged swimming instructor, who is privately reeling in turmoil as he dreads an imminent divorce from his wife (Audrey Dana). Despite their differences, the two men discover that they have much in common, and a strong bond emerges between them. Simon decides to take Bilal under his wing, realizing that he too must risk everything to reach the other side of happiness.
“Welcome is such a nuanced but richly layered film, that you only realize its depth and intricacies once it’s finished, and then you want to see it again,” commented Gartenstein in a statement. “We’re truly excited to give the American public the chance to discover Philippe Lioret’s haunting work.”
Launched in 2003, Film Movement is a “full-service” North American distributor of independent and foreign films, based in New York City. Film Movement has released more than 150 feature films and shorts from 37 countries on six continents.