The European Film Market at the Berlin Film Festival marks the first major film market of the year, and is one of the few events where nearly everyone from the global movie business comes together to network and launch new projects.
This year’s EFM will draw more than 1,600 buyers from roughly 70 countries into a deal-making bonanza for films in every stage of development and production, much like the American Film Market in Los Angeles and the Marché du Film in Cannes. EFM will include around 730 screenings this year, more than 600 of which will be market premieres.
What are the movies and screenplays already on executives’ radars? Here are 10 hot projects that could be prime targets.
Summary: This sports drama stars Shia LaBeouf as John McEnroe and Sverrir Gudnason as Björn Borg. The movie focuses on the pair’s 1980 Wimbledon tennis championship, and co-stars Stellan Skarsgård as Lennart Bergelin, the tennis coach who became a mentor to Borg. The project marks the narrative feature debut for Danish documentary filmmaker Janus Metz Pedersen.
Sales Pitch: The project was still in the post-production phase at AFM in November and hasn’t screened for buyers yet, but sources say “Borg/McEnroe” has already attracted multiple offers from distributors.
Sales contact: Svensk Filmindustri
Summary: A project at the script stage, this drama centers on American war correspondent Marie Colvin, who reported from conflicts in Kosovo, Chechnya, East Timor and the Middle East. The screenplay was written by Arash Amel (“Grace of Monaco”) and is based on a Vanity Fair article about Colvin written by Marie Brenner.
Sales Pitch: Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker Matt Heineman (“Cartel Land,” “City of Ghosts”) is attached to direct the movie, which would mark his narrative feature film debut. Charlize Theron is also attached as a producer.
Sales contact: Denver and Delilah Productions and Thunder Road Pictures.
Summary: This documentary focuses on the rescue of five-year-old Elián Gonzalez, the Cuban boy who in 1999 fled Cuba by boat and later changed the course of U.S.-Cuba relations. The film features testimony from the custody battle between Gonzalez’s father and Miami-based relatives, plus interviews and news footage from the well-publicized story.
Sales Pitch: Executive produced by Alex Gibney, “Elián” has already sold its television broadcast rights to CNN Films in the U.S. and Canada.
Sales contact: Content Media Corporation (International rights)
“A Fantastic Woman”
Summary: Chilean filmmaker Sebástian Lelio’s “A Fantastic Woman” stars Daniela Vega as a transsexual woman coping with her boyfriend’s death. As she tries to maintain a civil relationship with her dead lovers’ relatives, she’s confronted with the restrictive social norms that put her own livelihood in danger.
Sales Pitch: Sony Pictures Classics picked up this Berlin competition title on Thursday, the first day of the festival. The film looks every bit as provocative as Lelio’s 2014 drama “Gloria,” and has a number of high-profile filmmakers as producers, including Pablo Larrain and “Toni Erdmann” writer-director Maren Ade, who serves as a co-producer.
Sales contact: Funny Balloons
Summary: Italian director Luca Guadagnino’s remake of the 1977 horror film of the same name stars Dakota Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz and Tilda Swinton. The story focuses on a young American woman (Johnson) who arrives at the prestigious Markos Tanz Company in Berlin in 1977 right after one of its dancers disappears under mysterious circumstances.
Sales Pitch: It’s been just one month since Italian director Luca Guadagnino’s Sundance drama “Call Me By Your Name” sold to Sony Pictures Classics for a price in the low to mid-seven figures, but Guadagnino already has his next feature ready to go. “Suspiria’s” U.S. theatrical rights are already spoken for, however, as Amazon will release the film domestically.
Sales contact: FilmNation Entertainment
Summary: Writer-director Brady Corbet’s follow-up to his debut “The Childhood of a Leader” centers on a pop superstar named Celeste, played by Rooney Mara. The film follows Celeste through a 15-year journey of success and travails. Jude Law and Stacy Martin co-star.
Sales Pitch: “Vox Lux” starts shooting this summer, and Sierra/Affinity will make the movie available to buyers for the first time at EFM. Bold Films is fully financing the project, which counts Christine Vachon and David Hinojosa of Killer Films as producers. Eight-time Grammy Award nominated artist Sia will compose a complete soundtrack with original music for the film.
Sales contact: Sierra/Affinity
Summary: The latest film from acclaimed writer-director Sally Potter is a dramatic comedy about a small party in London hosted by a husband and wife to celebrate the wife’s promotion to Minister in her political party. The celebration turns sour, however, and both the hosts and guests end up confronting murderous feelings.
Sales Pitch: This Berlin competition entry has a strong cast in Cillian Murphy, Emily Mortimer, Patricia Clarkson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Cherry Jones and Bruno Ganz. Sources say “The Party” will be one of the most high-profile titles at the market.
Sales contact: ICM Partners (North American rights)
Summary: Director Craig Gillespie’s biographical sports drama stars Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding, the disgraced Olympic ice skater who was banned for life by the U.S. Figure Skating Association in 1994. Sebastian Stan co-stars as Harding’s ex-husband.
Sales Pitch: With stars like Robbie and Stan, it’s no surprise the film already has a U.S. theatrical distributor in Miramax, plus distribution in several territories outside the U.S., including Canada, the Middle East and the Netherlands.
Sales contact: Sierra/Affinity
Summary: “Rock’n Roll” co-writer and director Guillaume Canet also stars in this comedy, which centers on an actor who is told by an actress that he’s no longer a bankable movie star. He then tries to prove her wrong with the help from his girlfriend, played by Marion Cotillard.
Sales Pitch: This French-language comedy has a strong cast in Cotillard, “Hell or High Water’s” Ben Foster, and the famed French singer Johnny Hallyday. The movie already has distribution in France, where Canet’s and Cotillard’s previous collaboration “Little White Lies” was the highest-grossing French film in 2010, taking in more than $44 million.
Sales contact: Pathé
Summary: Stanley Tucci’s fifth narrative feature film as a director tells the story of Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti. The movie stars Geoffrey Rush as Giacometti and Armie Hammer as the art critic James Lord.
Sales Pitch: This biographical drama premieres out of competition at Berlin, and has a strong cast in Hammer, Rush, Clémence Poésy and Tony Shalhoub. The film is produced by “Wind River” and “Selma” producer Nik Bower.
Sales contact: Hanway Films (International), CAA (Domestic).