EXCLUSIVE: With an eye toward a theatrical release this year, Magnolia Pictures has acquired the North American rights to The Whistlers, the inventive crime thriller from Romanian director Corneliu Porumboiu that just premiered in Competition in Cannes to glowing reviews.
Porumboiu won the Camera d’Or at Cannes in 2006 with his first feature, 12:08 East of Bucharest. With follow-up films such as the shrewdly written Police, Adjective (an arresting 2009 tale about words, crime, and the letter of the law) and Infinite Football (last year’s soccer-obsessed documentary) Porumboiu has shown a gift for material that digs deep into eccentric pursuit.
In The Whistlers, the quirky element is the melodic skill set mentioned in the title. Here’s the official synopsis: “In The Whistlers, not everything is as it seems for Cristi, a police inspector in Bucharest who plays both sides of the law. Embarking with the beautiful Gilda on a high-stakes heist, both will have to navigate the twists and turns of corruption, treachery and deception. A trip to the Canary Islands to learn a secret whistling language might just be what they need to pull it off.”
Magnolia President Eamonn Bowles praised the film as “incredible gush of pure entertainment” and hailed Porumboiuh as a ramping talent from the intriguing New Romanian cinema scene. “Corneliu Porumboiu has been making brilliant films for the last few years,” Bowles added, “and he has outdone himself with his most crowd-pleasing work yet.”
Fionnuala Jamison of mk2 Films also described Porumboiu as a filmmaker now poised for a new level of international recognition. Jamison framed Magnolia as the ideal partner to handle the pivotal project and the emerging auteur who made it.
“We are thrilled to entrust them with the release of The Whistlers, which should be Corneliu Porumboiu’s breakthrough,” Jamison said. “They immediately fell in love with it, and we are convinced their passion and understanding of this exciting fresh take on the film noir genre will take it far.”
Written and directed by Corneliu Porumboiu, The Whistlers stars Vlad Ivanov, Catrinel Marlon, Rodica Lazar, Antonio Buil, Agustí Villaronga, Sabin Tambrea, Julieta Szonyi, and George Pisterneanu.
The film is a42 Km Film, Les Films du Worso, Komplizen Film production in co-production with ARTE France Cinéma, WDR, Film I Vast, Filmgate Films, Studioul de Creatie Cinematografica with the support of Romanian National Film Center, Eurimages, Bord Cadre Films, Cinema City. Producers are Marcela Mindru Ursu, Patricia Poienaru, Sylvie Pialat, Benoît Quainon, Janine Jackowski, Jonas Dornbach, and Maren Ade.
The deal was negotiated by Magnolia SVP of Acquisitions John Von Thaden with mk2 Films’ Fionnuala Jamison on behalf of the filmmakers. mk2 Films is selling the world.
Corneliu Porumboiu was one of the filmmakers who visited the Deadline Studio at Cannes 2019. He explains the influence of film noir classics on The Whistlers in the video below.