VARIETY February 6, 2019 | Elsa Keslassy
“Our Lady of the Nile” is adapted for the screen by Rahimi and Ramata Sy from the award-winning novel by Scholastique Mukasonga and unfolds in Rwanda in 1973.
Pic takes place at a prestigious and secluded Catholic boarding school, where the girls, an ethnic mix of majority Hutus and only 10% Tutsis, are groomed to be the Rwandan elite. But some deep-seated antagonism between the groups begins to arise at the school as well as throughout the country.
Now in post, “Our Lady of the Nile” is produced by Dimitri Rassam at Chapter 2 (“Le Brio,” “Paradise Lost”) and Les Films du Tambour (“Sibel”).
Nicolas Eschbach, Indie Sales’ co-founder, said the “script depicts in a very vibrant and heartbreaking way the birth of the dramatic events that occurred between Hutus and Tutsis 21 years later.”
Rahimi’s film “The Patience Stone” premiered at Toronto in 2012 and traveled to major territories, including in the U.S. where it was handled by Sony Pictures Classics. Rahimi made his feature debut with “Earth and Ashes,” which won the Un Certain Regard prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2004.
“Our Lady of the Nile” stars Rwandan newcomers Malaika Uwamahoro and Albina Kirenga, and French actor Pascal Greggory. Key crew includes the cinematographer Thierry Arbogast (“Lucy”) and editor Hervé de Luze (“The Pianist”).
“Our Lady of the Nile” is co-produced by Swoon Prods., France 2 Cinéma and Belga Prods. The film is expected to be delivered in the spring and will be released in France by Bac Films.
Indie Sales will introduce the film to buyers at the European Film Market with a promo reel.
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SCREEN DAILY February 7, 2019 | Melanie Goodfellow
Paris-based Indie Sales has scooped up world sales on Canadian director Louise Archambault’s upcoming feature And the Birds Rained Down.
Adapted from Jocelyne Saucier’s prize-winning 2011 novel, the film follows three elderly hermits living deep in woods that are periodically ravaged by wildfires.
Their quiet lives are disrupted by the arrival of two women, a luminous octogenarian who has been unjustly institutionalised her whole life and a young photographer charged with interviewing survivors of a historically deadly forest fire.
It is Archambault’s third feature and follows her 2013 drama Gabrielle, about a mentally challenged young woman who wants to spread her wings, which premiered in Toronto and was Canada’s Oscar submission in 2014.
An ensemble Canadian cast includes popular actors Gilbert Sicotte and Rémy Girard (The Barbarian Invasions, Incendies) in the role of the hermits alongside Andrée Lachapelle as the elderly visitor and Ève Landry as the photographer.
The film shot over the summer in Canada’s Montmorency forest. It is produced by Les Films Outsiders and will be released in Canada by MK2 | Mile End in the second half of 2019. Indie Sales will reveal a teaser at EFM.
“It’s a very naturalistic and sensitive piece, taking place in the breathtaking landscapes of Canada’s forest, a story where love can happen at any age and new life emerges in unexpected places while raising the question of the elders in our societies,” said Indie Sales co-founder and sales chief Nicolas Eschbach.
Other titles on the Indie Sales slate include Romulus & Remus – The First King, Memory – The Origins Of Alien and Psychobitch.
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VARIETY January 24, 2019 | Owen Gleiberman
In his latest movie-love documentary, director Alexandre O. Philippe does for Ridley Scott's 'Alien' what he did for Hitchcock's shower scene in '78/52': finds the hypnotic meaning in its horror.
Is there a scene in the history of cinema as awesome in its terror, as primal in its horror, and as memorable a freak-out for the audience that first saw it as the shower scene from “Psycho”? “MEMORY: The Origins of Alien,” the latest anatomy-of-movie-love documentary written and directed by Alexandre O. Philippe, makes the case that the chest-bursting sequence from Ridley Scott’s “Alien” (1979), in which John Hurt, squirming in nightmare agony on a table, watches a fleshy fetus with silver teeth and a shuddery long tentacle erupt out of his stomach, might be the equivalent, in sheer depth of impact, of Hitchcock’s most infamous moment.
Philippe ought to know. Two years ago, the filmmaker was at Sundance with “78/52,” a documentary that devoted itself to a fascinating and nearly fetishistic dissection of Hitchcock’s shower scene — though really, what made the documentary singular and captivating is that it was such a close-up, far-reaching appreciation of “Psycho” itself, in all its Freud-meets-the-death-of-God gothic slasher trap-door mythology. Philippe is that rare thing, a wide-eyed cinephile — a fan — who’s also a vibrant filmmaker. His documentary appreciations of these movies are rich and deep and layered, steeped in history and myth, psychology and design, yet they’re never academic. Philippe goes right to that place where the four-dimensional profundity of cinema touches the ardor of movie-buff obsession. For him, to be a fan is to grasp a film from the inside out. It’s to be a kind of supreme critic, who liberates the magic of what’s on-screen by seizing its hidden layers.
“MEMORY: The Origins of Alien” is a study of everything that made Ridley Scott’s famous sci-fi horror film so uniquely artful and unsettling, and it culminates in an examination of the chest-bursting scene — how it was created, how it was dreamed, and why it had the impact it did — that feels, in every detail, like an essential, bracing piece of movie scholarship. The visual design of the creature wasn’t an easy thing to nail down. A great many concepts and models were tried and discarded, until the filmmakers wound up with a skittery beast that looked like what “Alien” cast member Veronica Cartwright, interviewed for the movie, describes as a monster penis (and that was no accident). It was operated as a puppet, sunk in the red goo of store-bought animal guts, which made the set smell vile, and when the crew members of the Nostromo reeled back in cringing shock at the blood spray, it wasn’t all acting. No one knew, on the set that day, how badly they were going to be splattered.
Yet the most telling aspect of the scene is how the creature’s face (no eyes, those small jutting teeth), its presence, was conceived. Philippe treats the visual aspects of “Alien” as a detective story, and the alien fetus turns out to have been directly inspired by a seminal painting of Francis Bacon: the right-hand panel of “Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion,” his 1944 triptych that became, like a ghastly version of Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon,” ground zero for Bacon’s ghoulish aesthetic.
The head on that panel juts out, upside down, from a long straight neck, with no eyes, its single row of teeth extended, an expression of pure hell mixed with pure…appetite. “MEMORY” investigates how the painting purged the self-loathing that Bacon experienced around his own homosexuality, due to the rejection it provoked in his father. And while almost no one seeing “Alien” would make that connection, the staggering upshot of “MEMORY” is that this emotional level of meaning — the 20th-century rage at being despised for your sexual identity — is encoded in Bacon’s image, and therefore in “Alien” itself. That’s the way primal pop works.
Of course, it’s not as if “Alien” was all Ridley Scott and Francis Bacon. The film’s obsidian nightmare imagery, from the ghostly spaceship to the Egyptoid alien planet to the metallic skeletal creature with its mercury-dripping jaws, was famously based on the monumentally creepy sarcophagus-meets-laboratory-brain-hook-up sadomasochistic head-trip visions of the Swiss artist H.R. Giger (pronounced Geeger), and we hear in detail how that collaboration played out. We also learn that the idea of using Giger in the first place came from the formative creator of “Alien”: screenwriter Dan O’Bannon.
I’d always figured that O’Bannon, the John Carpenter associate who made the prankish “Dark Star” (1974) with him, didn’t bring all that much to “Alien” beyond the concept and the basic story structure. I had always given the lion’s share of the credit for the film’s awesomeness to Ridley Scott and H.R. Giger. But “MEMORY” traces how O’Bannon drew “Alien” out of his own pulp Petri dish.
Raised in rural Missouri, he dreamed big and borrowed liberally: from the giant-bug horror films of the ’50s, from the dreamscape dread of H.P Lovecraft novels like “At the Mountains of Madness” (about an expedition to the Antarctic that confronts the frozen remains of an alien life form), from movies like “The Thing” and “It! The Terror from Beyond Space,” from the life cycle of the local cicada, and from an eight-page story entitled “Seeds of Jupiter” that was published in a 1951 EC Comic. The idea of imbibing an alien seed and carrying it around inside you until it erupts — it was all there in that story. O’Bannon even drew inspiration from his battle with Crohn’s disease, the gut-twisting inflammatory condition that ultimately killed him.
O’Bannon put all this in a blender, and out of that erupted “Alien.” (His co-writer, Ronald Shusett, came up with the face-hugger, an image worthy of Room 101 in “Nineteen Eighty-Four.”) But it took a number of years to get the film made. After O’Bannon delivered his script, the executives at 20th Century Fox got a look at H.R. Giger’s work and nixed the plan to use him as a consultant; they thought he was “sick.” Talk about not getting it! (Of course Giger’s work was sick; that was the point.) But the situation changed after the release of “Star Wars.” Space was suddenly hot, and “Alien,” two summers later, became, in effect, the dark side of “Star Wars.” I’ll never forget seeing it on opening day. I felt like Alex in “A Clockwork Orange” being subjected to some brutal mind f—k of a mental experiment. The difference was, I couldn’t wait to go back.
“MEMORY” captures the hypnotic layers of history and meaning that were folded into the shock value of “Alien.” And it expands on a theme that’s often been talked about: that “Alien” was a subterranean feminist horror film — not just because Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley turns into one of the most potent heroines in cinema, but because the movie, drawing on the Greek mythology of the Furies, conjures a symbolic nightmare fantasy of a man getting raped (by the face-hugger) and then, in the chest-bursting scene, giving birth. (At that moment, the cosmos seems to be asking men: How do you like this?)
There’s one theme, however, that “MEMORY” leaves out entirely, maybe because the documentary gives the second, haunted-house half of “Alien” surprisingly short shrift. The helmet-headed monster that spends the rest of the film stalking the crew is a squirmy lizard built like a mechanical death trap: an image of technology merged with flesh. And that, as much as anything, is what marked the vision of new era. In “Alien,” what’s eating us alive isn’t just a beast; it’s the soul of a new machine.
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SCREEN DAILY January 25, 2019 | Fionnuala Halligan
A look at the legendary chestbuster sequence 40 years after it first exploded
MEMORY: The Origin Of Alien is a highly-entertaining slither around the creation myths of the 1979 cinema classic. It’s as enjoyably nostalgic as the Hitchock ode 48/62, the last documentary made by French director Iso Alexandre O’Philippe, and can look forward to much the same commercial trajectory – starting with another Sundance launch. The 40thanniversary feeding frenzy which is about to take place won’t harm its hatching either.
Particularly interesting in the #metoo age is that all parts were written to be unisex
Assembling a motley crew of talking heads – from veteran producer Roger Corman to star Tom Skerrit, podcasters, sci-fi heads, Alien experts, art critics, professors of Greek mythology and anyone in between – it ostensibly lacks the ‘live’ estimony of director Sir Ridley Scott (captured instead in archival footage). Yet that absence proves a balancing force, given that the two other creative drivers of the film, writer Dan O’Bannon and artist HR Giger, are no longer with us to give their testimony either. While there’s a lot in MEMORY which may perhaps be familiar to die-hard fans, it will delight those who still rightly revere it as the ground-breaking space opera. And O’Philippe’s doc is clear-eyed enough to underscore the fact that Alien is the one perfect film which the following five in the franchise have been hunting down with diminishing returns.
A silly, highly amusing three-minute prologue – a fiction insert detailing the reawakening of the Furies at the behest of Clytemnestra in the Temple of Apollo – establishes quite firmly that we’re in the realm of myth and fantasy and viewers may, or may not, want to proceed with caution. Although MEMORY follows some templates of the format, trying to lock Alien into a cultural and political framework, the film itself transcends that obviousness. The doc works best when it simply focuses on how O’Bannon, Giger and, Scott brought Alien to the screen, a perfect creative storm. (Interestingly, it pinpoints Alejandro Jodorowsky as a vital link in the process, and his failed Paris-based production of Dune - the subject of another engrossing doc, 2013’s Jodorowsky’s Dune).
As becomes clear throughout the documentary, the notorious “chestbuster” scene with John Hurt was the money sequence from script to screen to audience, and it’s also the climax of MEMORY. It’s what attracted financing and Fox, and its contextualisation via archival footage, out-takes and commentary is a delightful examination of a pivotal cinematic moment. O’Philippe leads the audience carefully there, starting with the orginal source, Missouri-born Dan O’Bannon whose wife Diana recalls his rural childhood with no phone, TV or library, a life-long fear of swarming insects and an admiration for HP Lovecraft.
Looking at Alien’s antecedents in the 1950s and 1960s, O’Philippe delves briefly into John Carpenter’s student space film Dark Star (1974), which O’Bannon worked on and felt should have led to a co-director credit. They fell out. But Dark Star was seen by Jodorowsky, and that led O’Bannon to Paris to work on Dune, where Jodorowsky in turn introduced him to Swiss artist HR Giger.
The stark contrast between the gritty, terrifying world of Alien and previous Hollywood sci-fi up to and including Star Wars is brought to the fore, as is the male rape subtext of the film, the “retribution of the repressed feminine”, as one pundit states. The central thesis here is that Alien comes from our collective dreams anf fears, what Tolkein referred to as the “cauldron of stories” dating back to ancient times, in particular the Greek myth of Clytemnestra, Orestres and the Furies.
There’s plenty of nuggets of information to relish – particularly interesting in the #metoo age is that all parts were written to be unisex. The sets were also sized to scale; the figure in the chest-buster came directly from the tortured imagination of Francis Bacon and his painting ‘Three Studies for Figures At The Base of the Crucifixion’. Dan O’Bannon suffered and eventually died from Crohn’s, a painful disease of the gut. And, in an early incarnation to be directed by Walter Hill (who eventually passed), O’Bannon had to pay for Giger’s concept drawings out of how own pocked.
What becomes clear is that Alien was a perfect meetingplace for its leading figures. The fact Ridley Scott isn’t on screen reflecting on his contribution somehow means it’s even clearer to see. The grit, the talent, the ability to force through decisions such as shooting in anamorphic Panavision or convince the studio it was fine to have no action for the first 45 minutes, and the whole hearted support of O’Bannon and Giger in what they did. Could a similar feat be managed today?
MEMORY refers to the title of the first draft of Alien, O’Bannon’s 29 pages which eventually formed the first act.
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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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