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Cannes 2021 Deals: The Complete List of Festival Acquisitions

As the festival season attempts to return to normalcy, eager buyers are expected to make some big purchases. Here's every one so far.

“Bergman Island”

Last year, the pandemic forced organizers to call off the full-fledged Cannes Film Festival. This year, the festival staged a comeback and welcomed industry players, including distributors looking for completed films at the buzzy festival, back to the Croisette July 6-17.

There was plenty of market activity from the start. Some of the buzzy titles that scored early distribution include Leos Carax’s English-language debut and festival opener “Annette.” Amazon scooped that up four years ago. Another Cannes favorite director, Paul Verhoeven, saw his latest effort, lesbian nun drama “Benedetta,” acquired by IFC Films.

IFC announced another acquisition, Mia Hansen-Løve’s”Bergman Island,” the day after the festival lineup was announced.

Last year’s Cannes included a list of official selections that allowed films to display the festival’s laurels, including Oscar winner “Another Round.” But actual activity was limited to a very abbreviated “special edition” staged in October, plus an online Marche du Film over the summer.

Below find a constantly updated list of acquisitions, beginning with the most recently announced. Note that the list does not include titles from the Marche du Film.

Title: “Aline”
Section: Out of competition
Buyer: Roadside Attractions, Samuel Goldwyn Films

Valérie Lemercier’s decidedly unique take on the life and career of Celine Dion earned big buzz at Cannes and will hit U.S. shores sometime in 2022, thanks to a pact between Roadside and Samuel Goldwyn.

Variety announced the deal for North American rights on September 27.

Title: “Vortex”
Section: Premiere
Buyer: Utopia

Gaspar Noé’s sixth feature sees the “Enter the Void” filmmaker moving in a more accessible direction with a split-screen meditation on morality. The film stars “Suspiria” director Dario Argento as a father struggling to care for his wife, played by Françoise Lebrun (“The Mother and the Whore”), who is suffering from dementia, while the couple’s son (Alex Lutz) does his best to help amid his own personal struggles.

Utopia announced the deal for North American rights on August 19.

Title: “Cow”
Section: Premiere
Buyer: IFC Films

Director Andrea Arnold’s first documentary, as she puts it, is “an endeavor to consider cows” — it follows the life of a dairy cow named Luma.

IFC, which distributed Arnold’s 2009 feature “Fish Tank,” acquired North American rights.

Title: “Anais in Love”
Section: Critics Week
Buyer: Magnolia Pictures

Writer-director Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet’s feature debut is a French-language comedy centered around a young woman (Anaïs Demoustier) who falls in love with the wife of a man with whom she’s having an affair.

Magnolia picked up North American rights to the film.

Title: “The Velvet Queen”
Section: Cinema for the Climate
Buyer: Oscilloscope

Per Variety, Marie Amiguet’s documentary “follows award-winning nature photographer Vincent Munier and writer Sylvain Tesson on a journey across the Tibetan highlands to document the infamously elusive snow leopard. Munier introduces Tesson to the subtle art of waiting from a blind spot, tracking animals and finding the patience to catch sight of the beasts.”

Oscilloscope picked up the North American rights to the film after the festival had wrapped and is planning a theatrical release.

Title: “A Chiara”
Section: Directors’ Fortnight
Buyer: Neon

Neon scooped up rights to the Jonas Carpignano film that won the top prize in Directors’ Fortnight. The film serves as a companion piece to his 2017 “A Ciambra,” assembling non-professional actors to tell a multigenerational family story centered around an 18th birthday party.

Neon acquired the North American rights to the movie at the festival’s end.

Title: “Unclenching the Fists”
Section: Un Certain Regard
Buyer: Mubi

Per Variety, the Un Certain Regard winner is “set in a former mining town in Russia’s North Ossetia region, ‘Unclenching the Fists’ is the story of a young woman, played by Milana Aguzarova, who struggles to escape the stifling hold of the family she both loves and rejects. The film is produced by two-time Oscar nominee Alexander Rodnyansky (‘Leviathan,’ ‘Loveless’).”

Mubi has grabbed all rights for North America, U.K., Ireland, Latin America, and India.

Title: “The Worst Person in the World”
Section: In Competition
Buyer: Neon

Joachim Trier’s Oslo trilogy is completed by this story of a 30ish woman (Renate Reinsve) grappling with her romantic and career choices. When her older partner (Anders Danielsen Lie), a well-known graphic novelist, wants to have a child, she starts a flirtation that leads to their breakup.

Neon has picked up the U.S. rights to the film.

Title: “Compartment No. 6″
Section: In Competition
Buyer: Sony Pictures Classics

Finnish filmmaker Juho Kuosmanen, who won the 2016 Un Certain Regard prize for his “The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli  Mäki,” returned to this year’s festival with an adaptation of Rosa Liksom’s novel penned by Andris Feldmanis, Livia Ulman, and Kuosmanen. Seidi Haarla (“Force of Habit”) and Yuriy Borisov (“Petrov’s Flu”) star in a film about a young Finnish woman who escapes an enigmatic love affair in Moscow by boarding a train to the arctic. She and a larger-than-life Russian miner are forced to share the long ride in a tiny sleeping car, where they face major truths about human connection.

SPC acquired rights for North America, Latin America, Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East.

Title: “Lingui, The Sacred Bonds”
Section: In Competition
Buyer: Mubi

Chadian writer-director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun’s drama is set on the outskirts of Chad’s capital where a woman and her 15-year-old daughter live. The mother’s fragile world collapses when she learns her daughter is pregnant and does not want the pregnancy; abortion is illegal and religiously condemned in Chad.

Mubi acquired rights for North America, U.K., and other territories.

Title: “Clara Sola”
Section: Directors’ Fortnight
Buyer: Oscilloscope Laboratories

Costa Rican-Swedish director Nathalie Álvarez Mesén’s feature debut follows 40-year-old Clara, who endures a repressively religious and withdrawn life under the command of her mother in a remote Costa Rican village. Clara experiences a sexual and mystical awakening as her niece approaches her quinceañera, creating tension in the family as Clara embarks on a journey to free herself from her cloistered life.

Oscilloscope nabbed North American rights and is planning an awards-season theatrical release toward the end of this year.

Title: “Great Freedom”
Section: Un Certain Regard
Buyer: Mubi

Sebastian Meise’s film, written by Meise and Thomas Reider, is set in post-war Germany and follows Hans, a man frequently imprisoned for being gay. The one steady relationship in his life is with his long-time cellmate, Viktor, a convicted murderer.

Mubi’s deal includes North America, UK, Ireland, Latin America (excluding Mexico), Turkey, and India.

Title: “Flag Day”
Section: In Competition
Buyer: MGM

Sean Penn directs himself and his daughter — Dylan Penn, in her first leading role — in this adaptation of Jennifer Vogel’s memoir “Flim-Flam Man: The True Story of My Father’s Counterfeit Life.” The film follows Vogel’s coming of age over two decades while navigating a fraught relationship with her father, con man John Vogel.

MGM is planning a 2021 theatrical release through its United Artists Releasing joint venture.

Title: “Bergman Island”
Section: In Competition
Buyer: IFC Films

Mia Hansen-Løve’s film stars Vicky Krieps and Tim Roth as a pair of inspiration-seeking American filmmakers who retreat to the mythical Fårö, home and favored filming location of Ingmar Bergman. Before long, the line between fiction and reality blurs and tears the couple further and further apart. This marks IFC’s fourth partnership with Hansen-Løve; the company most recently distributed her 2016 Silver Bear winner “Things to Come.”

Title: “Benedetta”
Section: In Competition
Buyer: IFC Films

For his first film in five years, director/co-writer Paul Verhoeven reunites with the scribe from 2016’s Elle, David Birke, to craft a story about sexuality, religion, and human ambition. “Benedetta” follows a young nun (Virginie Efira) in 17th century Italy who begins an affair with another nun.

Title: “Val”
Section: Premieres
Buyer: Amazon

Directors Leo Scott and Ting Poo’s documentary focuses on Val Kilmer and includes never-before-seen footage captured by Kilmer over the course of 40 years.

Amazon in May announced a deal to distribute the film in the U.S. and Latin America later this year. Producer A24 controls the remainder of the worldwide rights.

Title: “A Hero”
Section: In Competition
Buyer: Amazon

Plot details of “A Hero,” the latest film from two-time Oscar-winning Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi, are being kept under wraps. The Farsi-language film was shot in Shiraz, Iran and stars Amir Jadidi, Mohsen Tanabandeh, Sarina Farhadi, and Fereshteh Sadr Orafaie.

Amazon announced it had acquired the film in April and plans to release it laster this year.

Title: “Paris, 13th District”
Section: In Competition
Buyer: IFC

Jacques Audiard’s drama was shot in Paris during the pandemic with a screenplay co-written by him, “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” filmmaker Céline Sciamma, and Léa Mysius (“Ava”). Starring Lucie Zhang, Makita Samba, Jehnny Beth, and Noémie Merlan, the film follows four young adults who are friends and sometimes lovers navigating relating to each other and their gender, feelings, sexuality, and the concept of fidelity.

IFC bought U.S. rights during the European Film Market in March.

Title: “Red Rocket”
Section: In Competition
Buyer: A24

Sean Baker’s follow up to his Oscar-nominated “The Florida Project” stars Simon Rex as a washed up porn star who returns to his Texas hometown. The script was penned by Baker and frequent collaborator Chris Bergoch and was shot by “Waves” DP Drew Daniels.

A24, which distributed “The Florida Project,” is planning a theatrical release for the film.

Title: “The Velvet Underground”
Section: Out of Competition
Buyer: Apple

Todd Haynes’ documentary about the rock band features in-depth interviews, a collection of never-before-seen performances, Warhol films, and other experimental art that aims to create an immersive experience.

Apple announced the acquisition in October.

Title: “Mothering Sunday”
Section: Premieres
Buyer: Sony Pictures Classics

Eva Husson’s drama stars Odessa Young, Josh O’Connor, Olivia Colman, and Colin Firth and was adapted from Graham Swift’s novella by Emmy nominee Alice Birch (“Normal People,” “Lady Macbeth”). The film follows a maid (Young) given the day off to celebrate the engagement of her employer’s neighbor’s son (O’Connor), a significant occasion given the fact that the pair have been lovers for seven years.

SPC acquired rights for North America and several foreign territories in September.

Title: “Blue Bayou”
Section: Un Certain Regard
Buyer: Focus Features

Justin Chon directed, wrote, and stars in a film about the story of Antonio LeBlanc, a Korean adoptee raised in the U.S. who is forced to confront his distant past and what it means for his future when he faces deportation.

Focus will handle U.S. distribution and parent Universal will handle international as part of a worldwide deal that was inked at last year’s Cannes virtual market.

Title: “Memoria”
Section: In Competition
Buyer: Neon

“Memoria” marks Palme d’Or-winning director Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s first film shot outside his native Thailand. Starring Tilda Swinton as an orchid farmer and set in Colombia, plot details are being kept under wraps. The film is one of two Weerasethakul is premiering at the festival, along with “The Year Of The Everlasting Storm.”

Neon acquired North American rights for the film at AFM in 2019.

Title: “The French Dispatch”
Section: In Competition
Buyer: Searchlight

Wes Anderson’s 10th feature stars Benicio del Toro, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Bill Murray, Timothee Chalamet, and Saoirse Ronan and brings to life a collection of stories from the final issue of an American magazine published in a fictional 20th Century French town.

Searchlight, which bought the film back in fall 2019, is planning an October 22 theatrical release.

Title: “Annette”
Section: In Competition
Buyer: Amazon

Amazon inked a deal to distribute Leos Carax’s English-language debut all the way back in 2017. The musical stars Adam Driver as a stand-up comedian and Marion Cotillard as a world-famous soprano. The couple’s life takes an unexpected turn when their daughter Annette is born with a unique gift. The screenplay, original songs, and score were written by Ron Mael and Russell Mael, members of the innovative pop band Sparks and subjects of Edgar Wright’s 2021 documentary “The Sparks Brothers.”

Amazon will release the film in theaters in the U.S. on August 6 and on Prime Video on August 20.

Title: “Titane”
Section: Competition
Buyer: Neon

Neon picked up the rights to Julia Ducournau’s second feature (and eventual Palme d’Or winner) way back in September 2019.

The boutique distributor is expected to release it sometime this year, though an official release date has not yet been set.

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