I’ve just learned that Sony Pictures Classics has finalized two Cannes acquisitions at the start of the global film festival. This is the start of the new higher profile that SPC co-presidents Michael Barker and Tom Bernard want for their division after their contracts were renewed. The specialty unit has purchased all rights in North America to Michael Haneke’s competition entry, The White Ribbon. (This marks their second collaboration after previously released his film CACHÉ in 2005.) SPC made the deal with sales company Les Films du Losange. Also, Barker and Bernard will be announcing today that they’ve acquired all rights (for the U.S., and English Canada) for the Cannes title, Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky from sales agent Wild Bunch. The film is directed by French filmmaker Jan Kounen.
It’s set in 1920’s Paris where Coco Chanel has established herself in the world of fashion, and Igor Stravinsky, displaced by the Russian Revolution, is living, destitute with his family and dispirited from a disastrous reaction to an early production of his ballet. When the two are introduced, the attraction is immediate. A passionate affair ensues, which results in a period of great artistic achievement for both artists. Based on the book Coco and Igor by Chris Greenhalgh, the film stars Chanel model Anna Mouglalis, and Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen.
The White Ribbon is set just prior to the start of WWI, when the quiet life of a small German village is mysteriously eroded by a series of inexplicable events. The film is a co-production between X-Filme Creative Pool in Germany, Les Films du Losange in France, Wega Film in Austria, and Lucky Red in Italy. It was produced by Margaret Menegoz, Stefan Arndt, Veit Heiduschka and Michael Katz. Written and Directed by Michael Haneke, this marks Haneke’s fifth Cannes competition appearance (Funny Games, Code Unknown, The Piano Teacher, CACHÉ). In 2005, Haneke was awarded Best Director for CACHÉ. He was previously awarded The Grand Prize of the Jury in 2001 for The Piano Teacher, which won Benoit Magimel Best Actor and Isabelle Huppert Best Actress .