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Focus Acquires Pawlikowski’s “My Summer of Love,” Newmarket Gets Moodysson’s Latest

Focus Acquires Pawlikowski's "My Summer of Love," Newmarket Gets Moodysson's Latest

Focus Acquires Pawlikowski’s “My Summer of Love,” Newmarket Gets Moodysson’s Latest

by Eugene Hernandez

A scene from Lukas Moodysson’s “A Hole in My Heart,” nabbed by Newmarket. Photo courtesy of the Toronto International Film Festival.

Another pair of deals marked Monday’s biz activity at the 2004 Toronto International Film Festival, with Focus Features prevailing for the rights to Pawel Pawlikowski‘s latest well-received “My Summer of Love.” Meanwhile, Newmarket continued its relationship with Lukas Moodysson by nabbing the director’s much-discussed “A Hole in My Heart.”

Pawlikowski in Focus

In a deal announced late Monday, Focus Features secured distribution rights in the U.S., Canada, Scandinavia, Australia, New Zealand and the Commonwealth of Independent States, to Pawel Pawlikowski’s acclaimed new film, “My Summer of Love.” The movie, winner of the Michael Powell Award for Best British Feature at the recent Edinburgh International Film Festival, has been a big hit with buyers and audiences here in Toronto. Pawlikowski’s “Last Resort” was also a winner of the Powell Award in Edinburgh, in 2000.

In describing the movie, the company said, “‘My Summer of Love’ vibrantly charts the emotional and physical hothouse effects that bloom one summer for two 16-year-old girls (newcomers Emily Blunt and Natalie Press).

“My Summer of Love” was co-financed by BBC Films, the Film Consortium, and Baker Street Media. Pawlikowski and Michael Wynne adapted the screenplay from Helen Cross‘ novel of the same name and Tanya Seghatchian and Chris Collins produced the film, with David M. Thompson, Chris Auty, and Emma Hayter executive-producing.

“Pawel has already established himself as a breakout talent, one we’ve greatly admired,” said Focus co-president David Linde in a statement, “On ‘My Summer of Love’, his direction is so keenly attuned to the cinematic and emotional power and beauty of imagery and intimacy, and the young ladies’ performances are so striking, that we had to be the ones to bring his film to America.”

Sweden’s Moody Son

Sitting in the lobby of the Intercontinental Hotel here in Toronto on Sunday, a few hours before traveling back to his native Sweden, Lukas Moodysson looked simply miserable. The director had agreed to meet indieWIRE for a brief photo before heading out, but as expected he wasn’t in the mood for much idle chatter. Asked about his festival experience this year, where he unveiled his much talked about new film “A Hole in My Heart,” Moodysson grumbled that he had a terrible time in Toronto. It’s not that he dislikes the event, he explained, but that he just hates the film business. Not one to spend his festival days taking in films or attending parties, the filmmaker instead spent much of his time and money at a local comic book store.

After screenings that divided audiences here in Toronto, Newmarket acquired North American rights to the new Moodysson film, continuing a relationship with the acclaimed filmmaker. Last year, the company released his film, “Lilja 4-ever.”

“Lukas Moodysson is a fearless director with a distinct vision rarely seen in today’s marketplace,” said Newmarket’s Bob Berney in a statement Monday. “We will take great pains to ensure the care of ‘A Hole in My Heart’s’ distribution. It’s an amazing film that will at once touch audiences and demand thought.”

The film is described by Newmarket as, “A metaphor for the decline of Western civilization, ‘A Hole in My Heart’ is the story of four characters in an apartment.” It centers on Rickard, an amateur pornographer and his painfully shy son Eric, who spends most of his days holed up in his room, drowning out the sounds of his father’s latest production.” Continuing, the description reads, “At once a comment on pop culture (with the world’s obsession with reality TV and self-possessed faux celebrities), ‘A Hole in My Heart’ is daring film that will no doubt incite debate and discussion.”

“A Hole in My Heart,” written by Moodysson and produced by Lars Jönsson for Memfis Films, had fest attendees buzzing even before its first screening here on Thursday. The first showing filled fast and left more than a hundred people shut out, forcing organizers to set up another screening for press and industry over the weekend. Since the screening, buyers have been buzzing about the title, but most seemed too shy to take on a movie with such graphic sexual imagery.

Newmarket closed the deal with Trust Film Sales, a company that recently sold Newmarket “Old, New, Borrowed and Blue,” “In Your Hands” and “Daybreak.”

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