Oz deals for Cannes prize winners

27 May, 2013 by Don Groves

Transmission Films collared Australian rights to Blue Is The Warmest Color (La Vie D’Adele – Chapitre 1 & 2), the French film that won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival on Sunday.

Directed by Abdellatif Kechiche, the 3-hour, sexually explicit drama about a teen’s lesbian love affair was only the second French film to win the coveted Palme d’Or in 46 years (the most recent was The Class in 2008).


Transmission Films joint managing director Andrew Mackie told IF he expects the film to get an R rating, at most. “We're very happy with our acquisitions,” he said, reflecting the general feeling among Aussie distributors who were very active in the Cannes market.

Among the other titles in Transmission’s shopping bag are The Silence, Martin Scorsese’s passion project that he’s been working on since 1989, adapted from Shusaku Endo’s novel about Jesuits and the dawn of Christianity in 17th Century Japan; Jane Got a Gun, a Western that stars Natalie Portman, Joel Edgerton and Ewan McGregor; Zach Braff’s Kickstarter crowd-funded Wish I Was Here; and an untitled Mike Leigh project.

Madman Entertainment had a productive Cannes, nabbing The Lunchbox, Indian director Ritesh Batra's debut film about a young Mumbai housewife and a stranger who build a fantasy world, which won the Critics Week viewers’ choice award in Cannes; and Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s 3D adventure The Young and Prodigious Spivet, the story of a gifted 12-year-old boy (Kyle Catlett) who leaves his family in Montana and takes off on a cross-country adventure to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. to receive a prize, co-starring Helena Bonham Carter and Kathy Bates.

In Cannes Madman MD Paul Wiegard had his first look at several films he had pre-bought: Blood Ties, which stars Clive Owen, Marion Cotillard, Billy Crudup, Zoe Saldana and Mila Kunis, the tale of brothers on opposite sides of the law in 1970s New York; Only Lovers Left Alive, about star-crossed vampires who’ve loved each other for centuries but find something always gets in the way, featuring Tilda Swinton, John Hurt, Mia Wasikowska and Tom Hiddleston; and The Past, a family melodrama from Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, who won an Oscar for best foreign film for A Separation.

“It’s been a brilliant Cannes for Palace Films,” said general manager Nicolas Whatson. “We've acquired over a dozen world cinema jewels (including some major prize-winners) and look forward to announcing very soon.”

According to Cannes trades, Palace’s buys included French box-office hit comedy The Gilded Cage (La cage dorée); Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty, hailed by Time magazine as an “unfailingly vivacious and poignant document of a great city, Rome, in its third millennium of glamorous decline and fall”; and Uruguayan director Alvaro Brechner’s upcoming comedy Mr. Kaplan, about an elderly Jewish wannabe Nazi hunter.

The Cannes trades also reported Hopscotch eOne snapped up A Walk In The Woods, a comedy to be directed by and starring Robert Redford as a writer who tries to revitalise his life by undertaking a perilous journey on the perilous Appalachian Trail with his overweight, recovering alcoholic friend (Nick Nolte). EOne had pre-bought another hot Cannes title, Stephen Frears’ Philomena, which stars Judi Dench as an Irishwoman who searches for the son she was forced to give up for adoption.

Roadshow reportedly swooped on Justin Chadwick’s Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, which chronicles Nelson Mandela’s extraordinary journey from childhood in a rural village through to ascension to President of South Africa, starring Idris Elba and Naomie Harris.

Sharmill Films nabbed The Missing Picture, an autobiographical documentary by French-Cambodian director Rithy Panh which uses clay animated figures to tell Panh’s recollection of events that led to the deaths of his family, which won the top prize at the Un Certain Regard sidebar in Cannes.

Sharmill’s Natalie Miller also picked Valeria Bruni Tedeschi’s A Castle in Italy, the saga of an actress and her aging mother; Kurdish filmmaker Hiner Saleem’s My Sweet Pepper Land set on the Iraqi/Turkish border; and Reaching for the Stars, a doco about the English/Irish pop phenomenon One Direction.