A hit with critics and festgoers in competition at Cannes this year, Maren Ade’s Toni Erdmann has been chosen to represent Germany in the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar race. Produced by Komplizen Film, 99 Filmproduktion, knm and Missing Link Films, the bittersweet comedy was scooped up by Sony Pictures Classics on the Croisette in May. The movie did not take home any major Cannes statues, but yesterday was named Best Film of the year by international critics group FIPRESCI. It also is the only movie of 2016 to have landed on BBC Culture’s recent survey listing the Top Films of the 21st Century, and is among the three finalists for the Lux Film Prize of the European Parliament. The pic stars Peter Simonischek and Sandra Huller, and revolves around an older man who begins to play pranks on his adult daughter after finding her too self-serious.
An independent jury of nine panelists selected Toni Erdmann from a crop of eight submissions which included comedy Look Who’s Back and a number of dramas. The jury credited the film’s “resolute artistic signature” and called it a “bold and stylistically confident cinematic display of character on the pulse of the times.” Ade, it said, “manages to turn 162 minutes of film into a humorous, unmasking stroll through the nuances of a father-daughter relationship… Touching, evocative, implementing societal questions, and an unswerving artistic clarity. Just as modern international cinema should be.”
Ade responded she is “anxious to see how Toni behaves in Los Angeles.”
The full synopsis goes like this: Winfried (Simonischek) is a music teacher, and his daughter Ines (Hüller), a career woman who travels the world. Since Winfried doesn’t see much of her at home, he spontaneously decides to visit her in Romania. But his attempts to get closer to her fail miserably. He then takes her by further surprise, morphing into Toni Erdmann, his vibrant alter ego. Toni doesn’t mince words and interferes with Ines’ professional life. She plays along, and father and daughter make an amazing discovery: the more they clash, the closer they become.
Beyond Cannes, the pic has been at festivals in Sydney, Moscow and Karlovy Vary. It next stops in Toronto, San Sebastian and New York.
The Match Factory is handling sales and has already closed deals in 100 territories worldwide. The film was released in Germany in July with 450K admissions. In France it went out on August 17 and has 105K admissions to date. Sony Classics will release domestically at the end of December.
Producers are Ade, Jonas Dornbach, Janine Jackowski and Michel Merkt. Exec producer is Ada Solomon.