EXCLUSIVE: Warsaw-based New Europe Film Sales has boarded international sales on Goran Stolevski’s Housekeeping For Beginners starring top Romanian actress Anamaria Marinca as an unmaternal, gay woman who suddenly finds herself responsible for her partner’s two young daughters.
The drama is one of the buzziest productions to come out of Southeastern Europe this year and brings together a host of hot indie producers from three continents.
Australian-Macedonian director Stolevski’s star has been rising ever since Focus Features pre-acquired world rights to his debut feature, the Serbian mountains-shot horror You Won’t Be Alone, featuring Marinca, Noomi Rapace and Alice Englert in the cast.
After a Sundance debut, the film launched theatrically in the US in April 2022, via Universal. Focus Features also pre-acquired Stolevski’s Australia-set second feature Of An Age which opens in the U.S. on February 17.
Marinca plays the character of Dita, whose mansion in the hills of Skopje is the unlikely home to a wild group of LGBTQ people, among them her moody friend Toni and his new, much younger boyfriend Ali.
When her partner Suada is diagnosed with a terminal illness, the emotionally cold Dita is forced to promise she will raise her lover’s two daughters: one is a cheeky young child, while the other is a temperamental, increasingly rebellious teenager.
Dita doesn’t want to be a mother and the girls don’t want to be her daughters. But to save this patchwork family, she has to act quickly, contemplating marrying the only available man around due to the country’s legal position on same-sex marriage and adoption.
Working between Romania and the UK, Marinca is one of Romania’s best-known actresses. She won a BAFTA TV award in 2005 for best actress in the mini-series Sex Traffic while her Romanian credits include Cristian Mungiu’s Cannes Palme d’Or winner 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days.
More recent credits include Channel 5’s Deadline.
Housekeeping For Beginners was shot last year and is now in post-production and will be ready for a festival launch from mid to late 2023.
“We are thrilled to be part of this project, which brings together one of the most exciting directorial voices in world cinema today and a group of producers with excellent credits – a team that we can not only count on to deliver but also we’re able to call friends,” said New Europe CEO Jan Naszewski.
The film is produced by Marija Dimitrova at Skopje-based List Production and Klaudia Smieja-Rostworowska at Warsaw-based Madants, with Beata Rzeźniczek (Madants), Ankica Tilic at Kinorama (Croatia), Milan Stojanovic at Sense Production (Serbia) and Blerta Basholli at Industria Film (Kosovo).
Rising Macedonian producer Dimitrova’s recent credits include Sisterhood while recent films from Polish production powerhouse Madants include My Neighbour, Adolf, The Silent Twins and Pamfir.
Co-producers are Kristina Börjeson at Film i Väst (Sweden), Jonas Kellagher at Common Ground (Sweden) and Kristina Ceyton & Sam Jennings at Australia’s Causeway Films (Talk To Me, You Won’t Be Alone), in association with Beverly Hills-Based Tango (The Drop, Weird, Aftersun)and New Europe Film Sales.
Tango’s Tim Headington, Lia Buman, Ana Leocha; New Europe Film Sales’ Marcin Łuczaj, Naszewski as well as Film i Väst’s Anthony Muir and Rebecka Beckman serve as executive producers.
The production secured the support of the North Macedonian Film Agency, Croatian Audiovisual Center, Film Center Serbia, Polish Film Institute and Kosovo Cinematography Center.
In a joint statement, the producers said: “It was a unique pleasure to create what became a complex co-production structure, bringing a tapestry of different social and cultural groups into synergy, reflecting the film itself.
“We believe Housekeeping is an emotionally engaging and visually arresting feature that addresses important issues of social inequality. We hope the teams, located on three continents, will help this movie reach an international audience, melting some hearts with Skopje’s tale of empowerment.”
Goran Stolevski said a feeling of being among family had reigned through the making of the film.
“What a gift it was to work with this tireless, formidable, always-smiling crew and this luminous, selflessly giving cast, many of them acting – and lighting up the screen – for the very first time,” he said. “The feeling of family was palpable both on and off the screen. It’s a story and an experience we will all treasure for life.”
Further titles on New Europe’s EFM slate include Berlinale Panorama titles Silver Haze and Matria as well as Berlinale Generation 14plus selection Delegation.
The company will also market screen Sundance World Cinema Dramatic title Girl and continue pre-sales on Ulaa Salim’s upcoming sci-fi film Eternal, which was a hit at the Nordic Film Market.
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