Sales and Production Deals Struck for Irish Films as the Marché du Film Begins in Cannes, With Irish Title The Killing of a Sacred Deer Receiving Rave Reviews
A host of IFB-supported titles are making waves in Cannes as the Marché du Film at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival is already shaping up to be a busy affair for the Irish film industry. The Element Pictures-produced The Killing of a Sacred Deer, opened to a plethora of critical acclaim this morning, with the Irish title already receiving praise for its deftly acted and directed subversion of domesticity. In sales news, both Brian O’Malley’s The Lodgers and John Butler’s Handsome Devil have already secured multiple international deals at the market and it was also announced that Mackenzie Davis is to star in Lorcan Finnegan’s second feature film, Vivarium. The eagerly anticipated Grace Jones doc-biopic, Grace Jones: Bloodlight & Bami also launched in Cannes, with WestEnd Films acquiring world sales rights to the doc
Starring Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman alongside up-and-coming Irish actor, Barry Keoghan, Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Killing of a Sacred Deer, was hailed as “unmissable” by the Irish Times, in a five-star review which praised Farrell’s and Keoghan’s performances. Another five-star review from London’s Evening Standard suggested Lanthimos as a possible rival to the acclaimed Surrealist director, David Lynch. The influential Screen Daily lauded Keoghan’s turn as the sinister young teen Martin, as one that “exudes downplayed menace, with hints of noble vulnerability.” Another review called the film “a high point of the festival” as the Irish-produced picture gears up to compete for the festival’s most coveted prize—the Palme d’Or.
Speaking in Cannes, IFB Chief Executive James Hickey said:
“The Cannes Market is one of the largest film markets in the world so it is hugely important to the Irish film industry in terms of raising finance for up-and-coming productions and ensuring Irish films sell to international territories across the world.
“I’m also delighted to see that the critics’ reaction to The Killing of a Sacred Deer is so overwhelmingly positive. I'm particularly pleased to see Barry Keoghan breakthrough as a major international star to watch and I would like to congratulate Ireland’s Element Pictures, undisputedly now one of the world’s leading production companies, on their return to Competition in Cannes in the space of two years, following the 2015 success of The Lobster and an Oscar nomination for Room in between.”
The Lodgers, which was produced by Ruth Treacy and Julianne Forde with a script from David Turpin, stars Game of Thrones’ Eugene Simon and with Epic Pictures handling international sales on the Croisette, the Irish film has landed a string of major international deals. Epic have closed with Best Film in Poland, Eagle Film in the Middle East, Sky Media in Mexico and BF Distribution in Chile, Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador.
Following Handsome Devil’s massively successful Irish release last month (April), which saw Butler’s poignant coming-of-age drama achieving critical acclaim en masse, it has been announced that Radiant Films has sold the picture to key international territories. The film, which had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in 2016, has been licenced to Rialto Pictures for release in Australia and New Zealand, while Radiant have also closed deals with Salzgeber for Germany and Tongariro Releasing for Poland.
The news of Irish director Lorcan Finnegan’s second feature film, Vivarium, comes after his debut feature—eco-horror Without Name— was released in Irish cinemas earlier this month, also following a world premiere at TIFF in 2016. It was reported that Canadian actress Mackenzie Davis has signed to play the lead in Finnegan’s forthcoming film, which is expected to begin production in September.
With production on the documentary of legendary Jamaican-born singer Grace Jones spanning five years, it has been announced that WestEnd Films have secured global sales rights to the Sophie Fiennes-directed doc-biopic, entitled Grace Jones: Bloodlight & Bami. Produced by Katie Holly of Dublin’s Blinder alongside Sophie Fiennes, Shani Hinton and Beverly Jones and exec-produced by Émilie Blézat, James Wilson and Francesca Von Hapsburg, the doc is currently in post-production.
About The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Starring Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman and Barry Keoghan, a charismatic surgeon is forced to make an unthinkable sacrifice after his life falls apart, when the behaviour of a teenage boy he has taken under his wing takes a sinister turn.
About The Lodgers
Set in 1920's rural Ireland during its war of independence, The Lodgers the story of Anglo-Irish twins Rachel and Edward who are just about to turn eighteen. They reside in a crumbling manor on the edge of a village, where they have lived alone since their parents' untimely death. Except they are not entirely alone-for they share the house with an unseen spiritual force which resides in the basement, known only as The Lodgers. The twins must live by very strict rules set out by The Lodgers, or face unknown and devastating punishments. The film was financed by the IFB and Epic Pictures, who are handling world sales in Cannes.
About Handsome Devil
Produced by Rebecca O’Flanagan and Rob Walpole of Treasure Entertainment, Handsome Devil was written and directed by Butler and stars Fionn O’Shea as Ned and Nicholas Galitzine as Conor, as the pair—one an aloof outsider, the other a rugby-crazed jock—bond over their love of music. As their friendship is tested by the hyper-masculine ideals of the boys’ boarding school, the pair are inspired by their English teacher Mr Sherry (Andrew Scott) to find their own voices and be who they want to be.
Davis will play a young woman who, along with her fiancé, is in search of the perfect starter home. After following a mysterious real estate agent to a new housing development, the couple finds themselves trapped in a maze of identical houses and forced to raise an otherworldly child.
Fantastic Films’ Brendan McCarthy and John McDonnell will produce in co-production with Belgium’s Frakas Productions, with XYZ exec producing and handling global sales. XYZ is currently launching sales on the project to international buyers in Cannes this week.
About Grace Jones: Bloodlight & Bami
Grace Jones: Bloodlight & Bami is a multi-narrative journey through the private and public realms of the legendary singer and performer Grace Jones. Mixing intimate personal footage with unique staged musical sequences, and reaching beyond the iconic mask to create a cinematic journey into the worlds of Ms Grace Jones, the highly anticipated doc will be released by Trafalgar Releasing in Ireland the UK.