IFC Films has fallen hard for Oscar winner Asif Kapadia’s epic love story, Ali & Nino, with the company taking North American rights. This follows the film’s January premiere at Sundance. IM Global and CAA handled the sale. The adaptation of the best-selling novel by Kurban Said was scripted by Oscar winner Christopher Hampton.
Maria Valverde, Adam Bakri, Mandy Patinkin and Connie Nielsen star in the Azerbaijan-set story about two star-crossed lovers in the melting pot of Baku at the turn of the 20th century and through the onset of World War I.
Ali is a Muslim, with his warrior ancestors’ passion for the desert; and Nino is a Christian Georgian girl with sophisticated European ways. The two have loved each other since childhood and Ali is determined that he will marry Nino, despite their cultural differences. But there is not only the obstacle of their different religions and parental consent to overcome. When the war breaks out, Baku’s oil becomes the focus of Russia’s vie for power. As the war plays out, and control of the Caucuses changes hands, Ali and Nino find themselves swept up in Azerbaijan’s fight for independence.
Since its initial publication in 1937, the novel has been translated into 33 languages worldwide with nearly 100 reprints. Kris Thykier (Trash, Woman in Gold) is producer; exec producer is Leyla Aliyeva. IM Global will continue international sales at Cannes.