EXCLUSIVE: One day after the acquisition of Nadine Labaki’s Cannes Competition entry Capernaum, UK buyer Picturehouse Entertainment has scored another of the festival’s best-reviewed movies in the shape of Critics’ Week hit Woman At War.
Picturehouse’s Clare Binns and Paul Ridd negotiated the deal with Thorsten Ritter of Beta Cinema. Benedikt Erlingsson’s (Of Horses And Men) Icelandic feature received raves last week and its German sales outfit has received plenty of interest.
The generically diverse movie, part comedy, part social-commentary, part action-thriller, revolves around a woman who goes on an environmental mission to protect the highlands of Iceland. Halldóra Geirhađsdóttir (Of Horses And Men) takes the lead role with cast also including Icelandic musicians Davíð Þór Jónsson, Magnús Tryggvason Eliasen and Ómar Guðjónsson, who play a Greek choir that represents the protagonist’s inner demons. Erlingsson co-wrote the script with Ólafur Egill Egilsson (Trapped).
A Woman At War is Erlingsson’s follow-up to his debut feature Of Horses And Men, which won more than 20 awards including best new director at San Sebastián, best director in Tokyo, the Grand Jury prize at Les Arcs, six Icelandic Edda awards and the lucrative Nordic Council Film Prize. It was Iceland’s submission to the foreign language Oscar race in 2014.
Producers are Marianne Slot and Carine Leblanc of France’s Slot Machine and Erlingsson for Iceland’s Gulldregurinn, in co-production with Serge Lavrenyuk for Solar Media in Ukraine. Other co-producers are the film’s DoP Bergsteinn Björgúlfsson for Iceland’s Köggull and Birgitta Björnsdóttir for Iceland’s Vintage Pictures. Backers are The Icelandic Film Fund, Eurimages, l’Aide aux Cinemas du Monde, l’Aide aux Nouvelles Technologies du Centre National du Cinéma et de l’image Animée, l’Institut Français, Ukrainian State Film Agency, Nordisk Film & TV Fond, Creative Europe, and Fondation Gan.
Meanwhile, Labaki’s (Caramel) Cannes Competition title Capernaum revolves around a 12-year-old boy who decides to sue his parents for bringing him into the world. The hard-hitting drama was very well received at its world premiere last night.
Joint Managing Director for Picturehouse Entertainment Clare Binns commented on the acquisitions: “We are delighted to be releasing this glorious and entertaining new film, which showcases a superb central performance from Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir as a feisty middle-aged woman fighting against environmental injustice and so much more. This is the kind of character I want to see more on screen and this is the quality of filmmaking that Picturehouse want to support, and along with our acquisition of the superb Capernaum, I think we are coming away from Cannes with two truly emblematic films to embody the Picturehouse Entertainment ethos.”
In 2017, Picturehouse Entertainment, the distribution arm of UK art-house cinema chain Picturehouse Cinemas, released movies including David Lowery’s A Ghost Story and Francis Lee’s God’s Own Country. Paul Verhoeven’s Elle was another key acquisition for the company. To date this year, movies include Xavier Legrand’s well-reviewed Custody and Roger Michell’s Nothing Like A Dame.