The 2012 installment of the Cannes Film Festival is officially over, with top awards announced and handed out over the weekend.
We kept you abreast of all the sales/potential sales that occurred during the festival/market, and with the event now ended, I thought I'd take a look at what films got picked up and what films are still on the table, that are of interest to this blog.
First, the highest profile of the bunch, Lee Daniels' The Paperboy, based on an award-winning novel of the same name, made its world premiere at the festival last week; and, true to form, the film drew controversy and sharply divided critics in attendance. We could say Daniels has us right where he wants us. This is his sandbox, and I'm sure he's reveling in it all.
Unfortunately, and maybe somewhat surprisingly, the film left the Croisette without any distribution, despite its *name* cast. Might he have another Shadowboxer on his hands? A film that also came with a *name* cast, drew controversy, divided critics, and didn't immediately attract distribution after its festival premiere (Toronto 2005), and was released via a service deal with Freestyle Releasing in a limited theatrical run, and by CodeBlack Entertainment on DVD.
Of course S&A favorite, Ben Zeitlin’s feature film debut, Beasts Of The Southern Wild, which continued its streak of accolades, picking up the FIPRESCI prize at Cannes, was acquired by Fox Searchlight after its Sundance 2012 premiere, and will open in the USA on June 27th.
Also going into the festival already with distribution was Gimme The Loot, written and directed by New York-based Adam Leon. The film was acquired for distribution by Sundance Selects, picking up North American and Latin American rights.
Screening out of competition was an Australian musical drama titled The Sapphires, which is inspired by the real-life story of a soul singing quartet comprised of 4 Aborigine women (all sisters) who were the heroines of a play in which writer/director Wayne Blair was an actor in 2005.
Branded as Australia’s answer to The Supremes, The Weinstein Company was apparently instantly sold on it, because the company acquired global distribution rights to the Australian film, calling it a "feel-good" movie, aiming for a fall 2012 release.
Maybe Harvey and company see it as their very own Dreamgirls… or is it Sparkle… but originated in Australia. And oddly enough, like Dreamgirls, The Sapphires is based on a stage work as well.
Ken Burns The Central Park Five intriuging doc, which Burns co-directed with his daughter Sarah Burns, and his son-in-law David McMahon, is scheduled to be broadcast on PBS in 2013 or 2014; A long time to wait for it, so let's hope sometime before then, it'll get a theatrical release, which it didn't after its special screening at Cannes.
The documentary examines the case of the Central Park rape, in the late 1980s, that triggered strong emotions in New Yorkers, and the sensational media storm across the US that followed. It turned out to be a tale of racial injustice.
Five black and Latino teenagers were arrested and convicted for the brutal rape and assault of Tricia Meili, only to be released after the real attacker confessed in 2002.
GFM Films' feature-length blues documentary BB King: The Life Of Riley, was been sold to UK distributor G2, for a fall theatrical release.
Narrated by Morgan Freeman, the doc's interviewees include Bono, Bruce Willis, and Eric Clapton, as well as footage of King jamming with President Obama just 2 months ago.
No US distributor yet for a project that's being called "very cinematic."
One film from this lot that I'm really looking forward to seeing, is Senegalese filmmaker Moussa Touré’s La Pirogue (The Pirogue), which screened in the Un Certain Regard section of the festival – a project we've been following since I first wrote about in December.
Described briefly as a story about undocumented immigrants, the film is without any distribution,, which I'm not terribly shocked by. the filmmaker isn't exactly a household name on the international film scene, even though he's been making films for over 20 years; and the subject matter and POV the film takes are likely of little interest to audiences outside of continental Africa. But I certainly hope that the strength of the film (it's been reviewed very well across the board) will sell it, and that it's getting some interest.
Another titled of keen interest is Désordres (Chaos), which stars Isaach de Bankole and French-Rwandan actress Sonia Rolland, as history professor Vincent, and his wife Marie who have just moved from Paris (with their son) into a farm near a small town in the south of France, looking forward to a quieter life, some kind of return to nature. Marie, a renowned international pianist, who retired in spite of her young age, has decided to follow her husband, but almost unwillingly. From the very beginning, Thibaut, one of Vincent’s students (played by Niels Schneider), disrupts this family getaway, and slowly, the couple starts to come apart. But Thibaut’s intentions are not at all motivated by love. And he'll do anything to achieve his goal.
The film is directed by Étienne Faure, and screened for buyers at the Cannes film market last week. But no word on the results of those screenings.
Michel Gondry's The We and The I, will be released by Mars Distribution in France. No other territories yet.
Leading independent film sales company, Wide Management, repped Senegalese director Alain Gomis' 3rd feature film titled Aujourd'hui (or Today in English, also known as Tey), and Patrik-Ian Polk's The Skinny – Polk being the director of LGBT-themed indie films Noah's Arc: Jumping the Broom and Punks, as well as the creator of the Noah's Arc series for the Logo network.
Polk's Skinny has already screened in theaters around the USA, over the last month, and was likely being shopped at Cannes to international buyers; Gomis' on the otherhand, is without any distribution. Another film by an African filmmaker with an uncertain future.
And speaking of African filmmakers… Moroccan film-maker Nabil Ayouch's Les Chevaux De Dieu (God's Horses), a first-time Official Selection at Cannes, also left the festival empty handed, despite really strong reviews. The film is loosely based on the terrorist attacks that took place in Casablanca on May 13, 2003. Ayouch was shocked by these attacks committed by a gang of kids from a neighbourhood that he knew well. He wanted to show that the suicide bombers were also victims. Maybe that POV is what's keeping distributors away. Maybe not.
Austrian filmmaker Ulrich Seidl’s drama Paradise: Love, was another one of those controversial films that divided critics; the film, which screened in competition at Cannes, is set in Kenya and centers on a 50 year old white woman, sister of a missionary and a mother, who gets involved with a Kenyan "beach boy" as the director describes the character, until she realizes that, in short, this relationship of theirs is really just business – aka *sex tourism*.
The film will be released in Ulrich's native Austria, but hasn't been picked up by distributors in any other territories.
Nelson Mandela’s grandson Kweku Mandela was at Cannes to show footage, and hopefully sell international distribution rights (via Kaleidoscope Film Distribution) on a feature documentary he co-directed and produced (along with Kemal Akhtar) titled Mandela’s Children (a working title).
The film tells Nelson Mandela's story from the POV of his family and the people who knew him best.
It's not yet public what the results of its buyer screenings were.
7 Days in Havana which screened in competition in the Un Certain Regard sidebar, and which chronicles life in Cuba via seven different stories for each of the 7 days, told through the lenses of visitors to the Caribbean city. The film was helmed by seven different directors: Benicio Del Toro, Pablo Trapero, Julio Medem, Elia Suleiman, Gaspar Noe, Juan Carlos Abio, and Laurent Cantet.
The film will be released in France and the Netherlands; no other territories announced yet.
And finally, Essence Atkins and Marlon Wayans star in the indie comedy/spoof titled Smart Ass, which is decribed as a spoof of all those found-footage flicks that have been released in recent years.
Marlon Wayans directed what should be his feature film directorial debut.
Sales and distribution company IM Global shopped the film at the Cannes film market this year, along with a wider slate of films. And while the company managed to secure USA and international deals for some of them, Smart Ass wasn't one of the lucky ones.
Although the R-rated spoof is expected to find a US home sooner than later.
That's it! Your S&A 2012 Cannes Film Festival acquisition highlight reel.
I should certainly mention the Marché du Film (the Cannes Film Market) where a number of unmade projects we've covered in recent weeks were there hoping to raise production or completion funds – likeSeith Mann's adaptation of the graphic novel MISS: Better Living Through Crime, which Spike Lee is executive producing; as well as the Cannes L’Atelier – an initiative which runs during the festival aimed at finding financing for projects by upcoming directors that are in an advanced state of development; Dyana Gaye's Des Etoiles (or, in English, Stars) was one of those projects.
I expect new deals to be announced in coming days/weeks, so stay tuned…