Wellspring Takes Two from Cannes: Panahi's "Gold" and Sokurov's "Son"
by Brian Brooks
Wellspring has acquired two films from last month's Cannes Film Festival. Head of acquisitions Marie Therese Guirgis announced yesterday that the New York based company will release Alexander Sokurov's "Father and Son," winner of the FIPRESCI prize, and Iranian director Jafar Panahi's Un Certain Regard jury prize-winning "Crimson Gold."
The acquisitions mark the second releases for each director by Wellspring. The company's release of Sokruov's "Russian Ark" just passed the $2 million mark at the U.S. box office. It also released Panahi's "The Circle." Guirgis and Pierre Menahem of Celluloid Dreams negotiated the deals on the titles.
"Father and Son" is Sokurov's second installment in his planned "family trilogy" following "Mother and Son." The film portrays an intimate bond between a father, a veteran of the Soviet-Afghan war, and his teenage son, now a soldier. "Sokurov is going to be interesting to many people, (it is) a very unusual take on the father-son relationship," commented Guirgis in a conversation with indieWIRE. "[The film] still has Sokurov's trademark visual effects [but] the end hits you like a punch in the stomach, (it is) very moving."
"Crimson Gold" opens with a jewelry store robbery and suicide, then gives the account of events leading up to the incident. "I thought 'Crimson Gold' was the most moving film in competition or any of the sections," said Guirgis. "[It's] like no other Iranian film I have seen, it could be from any country."
Still feeling the effects of jet lag, Guirgis reflected on Cannes 2003 and its now much ballyhooed weak line-up. "I felt that the big films I was excited to see were disappointing, [and] there wasn't the thrill of discovery." Guirgis went on to add that all of the films has pursued are from established filmmakers, adding that there was a lack of quality material by new filmmakers. "Still, there were three or four films which I really liked," she commented.
Wellspring will release "Crimson Gold" in the autumn, while plans for "Father and Son" are yet to be determined.