Jason Blum, Offers, Buzz Titles, ‘Medusa Deluxe’: Locarno Industry Wrap

In its first full post-pandemic edition, Locarno returned to action as an industry hub from August 3-9, breaking attendance records with delegates from the Locarno Pro industry branch moving from 2019 previous high of 1,040 to 1,300.

This reflects the year-long work of festival artistic director Giona Nazzaro and industry boss Markus Duffner at Locarno Pro, building on the foundations laid by Nadia Dresti from 2010 to 2019. Attendance soaring from the sky also speaks volumes about the state of the international film industry, as it is rocked by titanic changes propelled by global, regional and local streaming platforms. Next, 10 takes on Locarno as they turn their final bend towards the August 13 price announcement.

Latest offers

Twenty new deals announced since Sunday exclusively for Variety:

* German Pluto Film is in negotiations with several theatrical distributors on the title “Semret” from Locarno Piazza Grande, before its world premiere on August 10. Meanwhile, “How I Learned To Fly” has been sold for theatrical distribution in over 17 territories, all across Europe, including Germany-Switzerland-Austria (Der Filmverleih), Italy (Imago), Poland ( Nowe Horyzonty) and Estonia (Estin Film). “Stop-Zemlia” closed Germany (Dejà-Vu) and Singapore (Anticipate Pictures). “Jesus Lopez”, “Heavens Above” and “Vanishing Fog” have been sold to HBO.

* “Olga” by Elie Grappe, Switzerland’s entry to the 2021 Oscars, continues its impressive sales rollout. Just before Locarno, Pulsar Content closed Italy with Wanted. A few weeks earlier, he had made deals with Tanweer in Greece, Falcon in Indonesia and Flamingo in Spain. Other buyers take A2B for Germany and Scandinavia, Pandora in Japan and Film Europe in the Czech Republic. Kino Lorber has US rights.

* In a just-revealed deal, Anglo-French auction house Alief has acquired the international rights to “Matadero (“Slaughterhouse”), the feature debut of “Mimosa” co-screenwriter Santiago Fillol and Oliver Laxe’s “Fire Will Come.” World premieres of the film in the international competition of Locarno.

*New Europe Film Sales has rolled out other territories on “Medusa Deluxe”, arguably the hottest property at Swiss Fest, securing deals for Spain (Elastica Films), Benelux (Filmfreak), Scandinavia and the Baltic countries (NonStop Entertainment).

*Bubbles Project by Tatiana Leite, one of Brazil’s most energetic international co-producers, boarded Venezuelan Michael Labarca’s ‘Kids Swimming in the Lake’, a big winner at this year’s Locarno Open House.

* German director Lukas Nalrath has announced his next feature after ‘One Last Evening’, which won the top prize at Locarno’s First Look 2022 post photo competition.

*Little Ones, the French drama about teenage pregnancy by Julie Lerat-Gersant, sold to Satine Film for Italy.

* Alief has just granted all rights to Italy on the title of Locarno 2021 “Secret Cop” with Blue Swan which plans a release in November 2022. During this Locarno, he is also actively negotiating

Australia and New Zealand, Poland, Czech Republic, Latvia, MENA and Nordic rights.

* Just released by Giant Pictures in the United States and Canada on multiple platforms such as AppleTV and Google Play, Jorge Thielen Armand’s multi-award winning “La Fortaleza”, which premiered at the 2020 Rotterdam Tiger Competition, has was acquired for Colombia by DOC:CO.

* France’s ‘Small Body’ producer Tomsa Films boarded Andrei Epure’s feature debut ‘Don’t Let Me Die’

*Sales agency Taskovski Films has acquired Susanna della Sala’s ‘Last Stop Before Chocolate Mountain’, produced by Marco Visalberghi, which won the Venice Golden Lion for ‘Sacro Gra’.

Children swimming in the lake
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trending titles

“Tommy Guns” by Carlos Conceição, a “remarkable”, “strategic and adventurous” second feature film, Variety Guy Lodge wrote in our publication’s most optimistic Locarno review to date. “The Adventures of Gigi the Law” by Alessandro Comodin has its fans. “Piaffe”, whose world premieres are presented later in the festival, is described by Indie Wire as a “sexy, queer and questioning gem”. Match Me!, Locarno’s dynamic networking event, brought a multitude of new talent projects to market. Two essentials to follow: “All We Imagine as Light”, the first feature film by Indian Payal Kapadia who dazzled with the winner of the Cannes 2021 Golden Eye “A Night Without Knowing”; and “The Far Mountains,” by British-Iranian artist/director Mitra Tabrizian, with “The Salesman” star Shahab Hosseini attached to star.

Co-production: the new arthouse mantra

“The [international] the theatrical market is getting tougher and tougher,” says Raffaella Pontarelli of Italian company Amarena Film, which presented a landmark project, “The White House,” at Match Me! Amarena’s business model is therefore to “collaborate with international partners, building lasting relationships”, she adds. Most producers at Locarno this year would agree with her. Co-production capital, based on international partners mobilizing incentives or dedicated funds in their own territory – think of the CNC’s Aide aux Cinémas du Monde – is increasingly the new economic model in Europe and Latin America. Sales, when they happen, can be the icing on the cake.

New talent: the mantra of the other industry

In a world of streaming platforms where the battle for success is a battle for talent, discovering new talent around the world is a priority for streamers, Hollywood agencies – think CAA – and governments. “The part of our industry that most needs Unifrance’s help to connect to international networks” is its emerging producers, said Axel Scoffier, Secretary General of Unifrance. Variety, explaining that Unifrance is bringing producers to Match Me! from Locarno. There, they can forge relationships that will lead to production partnerships in the future. More institutions seem likely to sign up for Match Me! Next year.

Disability and inclusion: the bull market

Locarno is committed to becoming a more inclusive and accessible festival, as expressed during a panel on “Disability and Inclusion in the Audiovisual Industry”, with festival artistic director Giona A. Nazarro calling it a “very important” in the history of the event. “Inclusion is a long-term commitment, but it also means a wider audience. 20% of Swiss live with a disability. So where are they?! It’s a process and let’s make it happen,” said Paola Pitton of Pro Infirmis. Emmanuel Kelly, singer with different abilities and founder of Outlyer, agreed: “This message is for the entire film and television industry: you love money, don’t you? Do you? Yes? Here we are. So why are you saying no to $125 billion a year? That’s what you lose by not representing those with different abilities.

The new cash rebates in Valais

What part of the global film industry is still growing? One axis, without a doubt, is the international trade in sets, as governments or regions fight to attract major sets to film in their territories. These days, no festival is complete without a new incentive announcement. In Locarno, the canton of Valais stretching from Lake Geneva in the west along the Sion Valley to Zermatt in the south, announced a new cash rebate offering returns of 15% to 40% on catches sight in the township with a minimum expenditure of CH100,000 of qualifying expenses. The total amount available is limited, but the program is a step in the right direction, said Valais film commissioner Tristan Albrecht. “We will grow little by little.”

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Everything we imagine as light
Credit: Little Chaos

“Medusa Deluxe”: a star is born?

The biggest single-film deal at Locarno was A24’s acquisition of the North American rights to Thomas Hardiman’s feature debut, “Medusa Deluxe.” The agreement was concluded well before Locarno, but announced discreetly at the dawn of the Festival. With MUBI shutting down a swath of major territories and New Europe Film Sales rolling out more deals, comedic murder mystery ‘Medusa Deluxe’ is undoubtedly Locarno’s hottest property. Hardiman’s “penchant for salty dialogue and ostentatious showmanship sets him apart from many recent British freshmen, and could possibly be used for more commercial purposes in future projects,” Guy Lodge wrote in his Variety exam. A star author is born?

Jason Blum & Gender

The biggest star at Locarno was Jason Blum who declared ‘Paranormal Activity’ dead – who thought he was alive? – and said he understood the ax from “Batgirl”. Meanwhile, after the genre craze at Locarno last year, a cohort of specialists have crammed into the festival to catch this year’s harvest. They were disappointed. Genre items were rare. But the genre, as an international production center, is increasingly being built. As art house sales become increasingly difficult, Italy’s Illmatic’s strategy is to “focus on genre films that are more marketable. Market demand is increasingly geared towards this,” said Francesca Delise of Illmatic. Variety.

More offers

In prior transactions reported exclusively by Variety, Intramovies from Italy covered “Nightsiren”, Heretic “Tengo Sueños Eléctricos” and “The Runner” bound for Toronto and Open Reel “De Noche Los Gatos Son Pardos”. Germany’s Pluto Films has confirmed international rights to ‘Semret’, while Taskovski Films has acquired ‘The Visitors’ ahead of its Locarno premiere. Woo Ming Jin’s Locarno player ‘Stone Turtle’ has been attacked by Parallax Films. At the Open Doors project hub, director Michael Labarca confirmed other co-production partners on “Kids Swimming by the Lake” in France’s Ticket Shoot Films and Chile’s Oro Films and Bolivia’s Empatia Cinema announced that Maravilla Cine would co-produce ” Diamond”. Ecuadorian Epopeya has unveiled its production partners for “Ñusta” at Argentina’s Hain Cine and Peru’s Casa Aguaflorida.

Christine Vachon talks about an industry driver: optimism

Delivering a hard-hitting and supremely enjoyable masterclass in Locarno Producer Christine Vachon quoted Ted Hope’s comment that “the greatest skill a producer can develop is extreme paranoia.” “It’s definitely a hope-for-the-best-await-the-worse mentality, but I also happen to be absurdly optimistic,” Vachon commented. “These days at the cinema, every morning, what am I waiting for to discover? How many COVID cases on the fucking set. Usually it’s like, ‘Oh my God, we had three this morning’ and I’m like, ‘But we didn’t have five.’ Or: ‘That wasn’t one of the actors.’ This kind of extraordinary, perhaps foolish, optimism is the only way to go, especially in these times. »

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Courtesy of Pascal Mora