In the latest deal to be sealed after the conclusion of this years Toronto International Film Festival, Magnolia Pictures has snapped up the North American rights to Luca Guadagnino's Italian family saga, "I Am Love." Starring Guadagnino's frequent collaborator Tilda Swinton (who speaks only Italian and Russian in the role), the film recently found warm receptions at its premieres in both Toronto and Venice (both the film and Swinton's performance ranked in indieWIRE's recent poll of Toronto's best).
The deal was negotiated by Magnolia’s Senior Vice President Tom Quinn with Jeff Berg of ICM. Release plans are tentative slated for Spring 2010.
"This was unanimously our favorite film in Toronto," Quinn told indieWIRE this afternoon. "From the get go we made an aggressive offer and stuck with it. The usual bunch were in the mix, but last night we took it off the table."
"This is one of the most incredibly realized cinematic experiences I've had in a long time," Magnolia President Eamonn Bowles added. "It was just so perfectly rendered... I think this is part of a renaissance coming out of Italian cinema right now. I couldn't be prouder to be part of the team distributing it."
The film details the refined world of a wealthy Italian family as a collison of tradition and modernity unravels it. Also starring Flavio Parenti, Gabriele Ferzetti, Pippo Delbono and Edoardo Gabbriellini, it follows the Recchi family. The family patriarch has surprised the family by willing shared ownership of his massive industrial company to both his son Tancredi (Delbono), and his grandson Edoardo Jr. (Parenti). Meanwhile, Edoardo Jr. has other plans, dreaming of opening a restaurant with a talented chef friend, Antonio (Gabbriellini). At the heart of the family is Tancredi’s wife and Edoardo Jr.’s mother, Emma (Swinton), a Russian immigrant who has adopted the culture of Milan, and whose existence is shaken when she enters a passionate love affair with her son’s friend Antonio.
"We've been talking about making this film for seven years," Swinton said after the film's premiere in Toronto. "Luca and I are very, very old friends. I think we started to talk about a film that we wanted to see, which is pretty much what you just saw. [It is] a kind of emotional cinema that we were looking for that is very often related to a cinema from the past. And very often you hear people saying 'well, that cinema doesn't exist anymore.'"
At the screening, Toronto International Film Festival CEO Piers Handling compared it to Luchino Visconti's "The Leopard."
"Of course we are inspired by Visconti," Swinton said in response. "Who isn't? But this is not the futile artistocracy of Visconti's palette. This is something much more modern and very particular that we felt had not really been looked at in cinema."
Check out indieWIRE's coverage of its Toronto premiere here.