Sony Pictures Classics has acquired North American and Latin American rights to Capernaum, the Nadine Labaki-directed drama that is playing in competition for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Sources said SPC pays $1.3 million for a film it will get behind and launch in December for Oscar season.
The film, Labaki’s third to play Cannes after Caramel and Where Do We Go Now?, focuses on a 12-year-old boy (Zain Alrafeea) in a fictitious Middle Eastern village who sues his parents for bringing him into a world of such suffering. The film premiered in competition next Thursday.
Labaki, a Lebanese actress-turned-director, wrote the script to focus on powerless, disenfranchised and illiterate children and created a drama about one who tries to do something about it. Khaled Mouzanar produced. CAA Media Finance Group and Wild Bunch are handling the sales.
This becomes the second in the Cannes program to score a major distribution deal after opening-night film Everybody Knows was acquired by Focus Features. The market has gotten off to an OK start, topped by Miramax paying $30 million to finance Guy Ritchie’s Toff Guys. There is every reason to believe that money will be spent here by the weekend: the Simon Kinberg-directed 355 is presenting to buyers today with Jessica Chastain, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Fan Binbing and Lupita Nyong’o all there to greet buyers and lay out plans for their spy franchise. In addition, the Julian Schnabel-directed At Eternity’s Gate with Willem Dafoe playing the troubled artist Vincent Van Gogh has one if not more offers, and the Egyptian film Yomettine also has action.
Said Labaki: “It is wonderful to have the opportunity to collaborate once again with Sony Pictures Classics. Capernaum is very special to me, and with the passion Tom [Bernard] and Michael [Barker] have for this film, I know this is the ideal partnership.”
Said Sony Pictures Classics, “Nadine Labaki is one of the world’s great filmmakers. Capernaum is an emotionally profound experience about the world we live in and promises to be a triumph in Cannes. Nadine Labaki’s moment as writer-director is here and now. It is thrilling to be working with her, as well as her producer Khaled Mouzanar, Vincent Maraval and Eva Diederix at Wild Bunch, and Roeg Sutherland and CAA.”