By Peter Knegt | Indiewire May 13, 2009 at 6:38AM
Michael Haneke's Cannes competition entry, "The White Ribbon," has been acquired for North American release by Sony Pictures Classics.
The acquisition marks Sony Classics' second collaboration with Haneke, having previously released his film "Cache" in 2005. They acquired all North American rights from sales company Les Films du Losange.
Sony Classics' head Michael Barker spoke to indieWIRE about the acquisition, noting that "Ribbon" always felt like a "family production" because of his long standing relationship with both Haneke and producers Margaret Menegoz and Stefan Arndt. "This is a relationship that goes way back," he said. "It was a match that was meant to be."
He noted SPC first heard about the project with "Cache" closed the 2005 New York Film Festival. "We were interested in the subject matter before he even wrote the script," Barker said, calling the film a "classical historical epic" that's very different from Haneke's previous work.
The film is set just prior to the start of WWI, where, as Sony Classics describes, "the quiet life of a small German village is mysteriously eroded by a series of inexplicable events." It marks Haneke's fifth Cannes competition appearance after "Funny Games," "Code Unknown," "The Piano Teacher," and "Cache." In 2005, "Cache" won Haneke the Best Director prize at the festival, while was previously awarded the Grand Prize of the Jury in 2001 for "The Piano Teacher."
"After our perfect collaboration on 'Cache,' I am delighted to share with Sony Classics as a new adventure 'The White Ribbon,'" said Michael Haneke in statement.
The film is a co-production between X-Filme Creative Pool in Germany, Les Films du Losange in France, Wega Film inAustria and Lucky Red in Italy. It was produced by Menegoz ("Cache," "Funny Games"), Arndt ("Run Lola Run," "Goodbye Lenin!"), Veit Heiduschka and Michael Katz.