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Indie Sales boards Lav Diaz's Directors' Fortnight title 'The Halt' (exclusive)

SCREEN May 2, 2019 | Melanie Goodfellow

Paris-based Indie Sales has acquired international sales rights to Filipino filmmaker Lav Diaz’s black and white sci-fi work The Halt, ahead of its premiere in Directors’ Fortnight.

The drama is set in Filipino capital Manila in 2034, which has been enveloped in darkness ever since massive volcanic eruptions in the Celebes Sea three years prior deprived Southeast Asia of sunlight.

It is a world in which “madmen control countries, communities, enclaves and new bubble cities. Cataclysmic epidemics ravage the continent. Millions have died and millions more have left”, according to the official short synopsis for the film.

Indie Sales CEO Nicolas Eschbach negotiated the acquisition with French Distributor ARP Selection, which held world rights for the production and will release the film in France, in its third collaboration with Diaz.

“In this very politically charged film, Lav Diaz fights back against all kind of fanaticism. But he fights in his own way: with beautifully composed black and white shots, a quiet sense of foreboding, and a thin ray of hope,” said ARP’s co-founding chief Michèle Halberstadt.

The Halt is our first ever Asian title,” adds Eschbach, “Lav delivers a very accurate comment on the political situation of his country.” 

Diaz was last in Cannes with Norte, The End Of History which premiered in Un Certain Regard in 2013.

In the meantime, he won Locarno’s Golden Leopard in 2014 for From What Is Before; premiered his A Lullaby To The Sorrowful Mystery in competition at the Berlinale in 2016, and won the Venice’s Golden Bear with The Woman Who Left in 2016.


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Indie Sales Boards Cannes’ Un Certain Regard Player ‘Summer of Changsha’ (EXCLUSIVE)

VARIETY May 3, 2019 | Elsa Keslassy

Paris-based company Indie Sales has acquired Chinese actor-turned-director Zu Feng’s feature debut “Summer of Changsha” which will world premiere at Cannes in Un Certain Regard and will vie for the Camera d’Or award.

A popular Chinese actor, Feng previously starred in Lou Ye’s “Mystery” which played at Cannes in 2012 and in the TV series “Lurk.”

The crime film stars Feng as A Bin, a police detective in Changsha, who meets a mysterious female surgeon, Li Xue, during the investigation of a bizarre murder case. As they get to know each other, A Bin falls for Li Xue, while both are struggling with their own love stories and sins. The film was produced by Rui Li from Gootime Media Co.

“Summer of Changsha” marks Indie Sales’s first acquisition of a Chinese film, said Simon Gabriele, Indie Sales acquisitions and sales manager.

“We’ve always been attentive observers of China’s vivid movie industry but never had the chance to work with a Chinese film before,” said Gabriele, who described “Summer of Changsha” as a “very intimate and accurate portray of modern China through the prism of crime film.”

Indie Sales also recently acquired Lav Diaz’s black and white sci-fi film “The Halt” which is set in in Filipino capital Manila in 2034 and will unspool at Directors’ Fortnight. Indie Sales’s slate at Cannes also includes Rémi Chayé’s animated film “Calamity – The Childhood of Martha Jane Cannary,” the French helmer’s follow up to his critically acclaimed feature debut “Long Way North.”


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Indie Sales Acquires Remi Chayé’s Female-Driven Animated Feature ‘Calamity’ (EXCLUSIVE)

VARIETY April 25, 2019 | Elsa Keslassy

Paris-based company Indie Sales (“My Life as a Zucchini”) has acquired Rémi Chayé’s animated film “Calamity – The Childhood of Martha Jane Cannary,” the French helmer’s follow up to his critically acclaimed feature debut “Long Way North.”

“Calamity – The Childhood of Martha Jane Cannary” tells the story of the 12-year-old Martha Jane who must take charge of her siblings after her father is hurt in a serious accident while driving a large convoy to the West in search for a better life. Frustrated by the constraints of being a girl, Martha Jane decides to dress as a boy to better fulfil her duty to take care of her family and pursue her growing thirst for freedom and adventure outside of the constraints of the rigid convoy. And one day, after being unfairly accused of theft, she runs away determined to prove her innocence.

As with “Long Way North” in which the protagonist is a fierce 14-year old Russian girl who embarks on a journey to the North Pole to find her grandfather whose ship went missing, “Calamity – The Childhood of Martha Jane Cannary” is also driven by a bold and fearless female hero.

ndie Sales will be handling international sales rights to “Calamity – The Childhood of Martha Jane Cannary” and will introduce the project to buyers at Cannes. The French company has a strong track record with auteur-driven animated films, such as the Oscar- and Golden Globe-nominated “My Life as a Zucchini” and more recently “Another Day of Life” which played at Cannes and won the audience award at San Sebastien.

“We are thrilled to team up with Maybe Movies on Remi’s new film. He has proven to be one of France most brilliant talents with a unique signature,” said Nicolas Eschbach, Indie Sales’ co-founder. “The film is in the same vein as ‘Long Way North,’ yet more sophisticated in terms of artistic direction and ambition.”

Eleanor Coleman, Indie Sales’s head of animated acquisitions, described the project as a “wonderful artistic interpretation of the origins of a decidedly modern female hero.” “Rémi has mastered his unique animation technique creating a broad beautiful portrait of the American West in all of its complexity,” said Coleman.

“Calamity – The Childhood of Martha Jane Cannary” has been selected to take part in Annecy Animation Film Festival’s Work-In-Progress program which takes place June. The film is being created by the award-winning team behind “Ernest & Celestine,””Song of the Sea” and “The Secret of Kells;” and is produced by Maybe Movies, whose credits include Chayé’s last film “Long Way North” and the Cannes-premiering “Zombillenium” and Nørlum (“Song of the Sea,” “Long Way North”).

“Calamity – The Childhood of Martha Jane Cannary” will be released in France by Gebeka in 2020.


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Indie Sales Launches Brussels-Based Outfit With Directors’ Fortnight Title ‘Oleg’ (EXCLUSIVE)

VARIETY April 29, 2019 | Elsa Keslassy

Indie Sales, the French international sales boutique behind the Oscar-nominated “My Life as a Zucchini” and Ziad Doueiri’s “The Insult,” is set to branch out with the launch of Best Friend Forever, a new Brussels-based outfit dedicated to festival-driven world cinema.

Best Friend Forever is kicking off with the acquisition of Juris Kursietis’ sophomore outing, “Oleg,” which will world premiere at Cannes’ Directors Fortnight. The movie follows Kursietis’ feature debut, “Modris,” which received San Sebastian’s special mention for the New Directors Award in 2014.

Produced by Tasse Film (“Dogs Don’t Wear Pants”) with Iota Productions (“Song of the Sea”) and In Script & Arizona Productions (“The Gentle Indifference of the World”), “Oleg” follows the story of a young Latvian butcher who immigrates to Brussels to work at a meat factory, hoping for a better life, but instead quickly falls under the yoke of Andzejs, a Polish criminal.

Best Friend Forever is being launched by Martin Gondre, who worked at Indie Sales for six years as head of marketing and festivals, and entertainment lawyer Charles Bin, who worked at leading Parisian law firm Intervista, with the backing of Indie Sales’ co-founders, Nicolas Eschbach and Eric Névé. Both companies will share an office at the upcoming Cannes Film Festival.

“After six great years at Indie Sales, it feels like a dream come true to launch my company together with my oldest friend Charles, whom I have known for more than 15 years, and even more with a strong and universal Cannes title,” said Gondre.

He said “Oleg” represented the type of movies that Best Friend Forever wants to handle – “fresh and raw talent, at the dawn of their career, with whom we can grow together.” During his tenure at Indie Sales, Gondre worked on more than 60 films, including “The Insult” and “My Life as a Zucchini,” on top of festival-driven titles such as Clément Cogitore’s “Braguino.”

Bin, who has worked on more than 50 feature films and TV series as a lawyer and developed a solid expertise in financing international productions, said ‘Best Friend Forever’ would strive to deliver a service enhanced from the traditional business models of sales agencies, and become a “one-stop-shop” allowing a given project to develop an international scope.

“We consider producers as talents, and want to offer a new range of service alongside a sales activity, from negotiating deals on the best terms, structuring co-productions, or gap financing by acting as an intermediary,” said Bin, who previously trained at the French lending institution Cofiloisirs.

Eschbach said Indie Sales, which will provide Best Friend Forever with back office support, was continuing to grow with the creation of this new banner. “This adds a new asset to Indie Sales’ synergies between sales, production and financing,” said Eschbach, adding that Gondre had been with Indie Sales since the creation of the company.

The Belgian capital offers an appealing tax rebate and a strong pool of producers with very few local sales companies, Gondre and Bin said.

“Brussels makes total sense – Europe’s most important co-production place where the key players have not developed arms for international sales. It’s the perfect place for us, not to mention that we love the city and its producers,” said the pair.

Best Friend Forever will handle 10 films a year. Aside from “Oleg,” the new banner will attend Cannes with a slate including Genevieve Dulude-de Celles’s feature debut, “A Colony,” which won a number of awards, notably the Crystal Bear at Berlin, and three prizes at the 2019 Canadian Screen Awards. The company will soon be announcing more acquisitions.


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Indie Sales Acquires Berlinale-Bound Coming-of-Age Drama ‘A Colony’

VARIETY January 18, 2019 | Elsa Keslassy

Paris-based company Indie Sales has acquired the coming-of-age drama “A Colony” which will be making its international premiere at the Berlin Film Festival in the generation section.

“A Colony” marks the feature debut of Geneviève Dulude-De Celles, whose short film “The Cut” won a prize at Sundance in 2014.

Set in Sorel Tracy, a Quebec town, at the end of summer, “A Colony” follows Mylia, a timid 12-year-old who must leave her little sister and native countryside to enter high school. Lost in this new environment, she meets Jacinthe, who introduces her to teenage rituals and absurdities, and Jimmy, a fierce young native from the neighboring reservation whom encourages her to cross boundaries, and ultimately form her personal identity.

“A Colony” previously won six awards in Quebec, including the best film and audience awards at the Quebec City Film. Festival.

Martin Gondre, Indie Sales’ head of marketing and festivals, said “A Colony” was both “universal and moving, while raising the mostly unknown question of the first nations.” The executive added that Emilie Bierre (“Genesis”), who plays Mylia in the film was a “true revelation.”

“A Colony” also stars promising newcomers, Irlande Côté and Jacob Whiteduck-Lavoie. The film was produced by Colonelle Film, who had worked with Dulude-De Celles on her short “The Cut.”

“A Colony” will be released in Quebec on Feb. 1 by Funfilm Distribution.

In the run-up to the Berlin Film Festival, Indie Sales has also acquired “Knocked Up,” the fourth feature from director Sophie Letourneur, and Benjamin Parent’s coming-of-age tale “Little Man.”

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