Roadside/Goldwyn and Wellspring Announce Foreign-Language Film Deals from AFM
by Wendy Mitchell
As the annual American Film Market kicks off its last day today, several acquisition deals for foreign-language films -- all negotiated with French sales agent Celluloid Dreams -- were announced from the AFM on Tuesday. Roadside Attractions and Samuel Goldwyn Films have jointly acquired the North American distribution rights to Eytan Fox's "Walk on Water," which recently screened in the Panorama section at the 2004 Berlinale. Roadside/Goldwyn plans a fall 2004 release. In separate deals, Wellspring (which is now a division of American Vantage Media) acquired all U.S. rights to Cedric Kahn's "Feux Rouges" (Red Lights) and to Marco Bellocchio's "Buongiorno, Notte" (Good Morning, Night).
Hengameh Panahi of Celluloid Dreams negotiated with Peter Goldwyn, director of acquisitions for Samuel Goldwyn Films for "Walk on Water," and with Marie Therese Guirgis, Wellspring's head of acquisitions, and Ryan Werner, Wellspring's head of theatrical distribution, for "Red Lights" and "Good Morning, Night."
"Walk on Water" stars Lior Ashkenazi, who won raves for his role in "Late Marriage," as an Israeli intelligence agent who goes undercover to plan the assassination of a notorious Nazi criminal. In Israel, the agent befriends the Nazi's gay grandson (Knut Bergen) and granddaughter (Carolina Peters) and later visits Germany to discover the family's secrets. The American-born, Israeli director Fox previously directed "Yossi & Jagger," a feature about gay Israeli army soldiers -- which won prizes at the Tribeca Film Festival, Jerusalem International Film Festival and others and was distributed by Strand Releasing. This is the second deal for the industry vets Howard Cohen and Eric d'Arbeloff's Roadside Attractions, following another deal with Goldwyn for Morgan Spurlock's Sundance hit doc "Super Size Me."
"Red Lights," which played in competition at the Berlinale, is a thriller with a comedic edge directed by Kahn ("L'ennui") and starring French actress Carole Bouquet. It follows a couple on a summer road trip, and is a modern telling of Georges Simenon's 1953 novel. Wellspring plans a summer U.S. release, followed by a video/DVD release.
"Good Morning, Night" (which was not a part of the AFM) won several prizes at its premiere at the 2003 Venice Film Festival, won the FIPRESCI prize at European Film Awards and also screened in Toronto and Karlovy Vary. Director Bellocchio ("My Mother's Smile") offers his take on the kidnapping and murder of Italian prime minister Aldo Moro by Red Brigade activists in 1978, as seen through the eyes of a young female kidnapper. Wellspring will release the film theatrically in 2004, followed by a video/DVD release.