Cannes attracts a specific type of movie and film festival buyer. Rather than the crowd-pleasing Sundance movie, the Neons, Sony Pictures Classics and Mubis of the world are on the hunt for the next arthouse event of the year, the movie that demands to be seen in a theater populated with other cinephiles, which last year led to big deals for titles like "The Worst Person in the World" and "Drive My Car." The 2022 competition slate, while already loaded with pre-sold films, includes some similarly auteur-driven work that should no doubt have some commercial appeal to the right buyer.
A24 took the North American rights to "Aftersun," Charlotte Wells' tearjerker that stars Paul Mescal and played in the Critics' Week section of Cannes. Barry Jenkins is listed as a producer on the film about a girl reflecting on her vacation with her father and the man she thinks she remembers.
Sony Pictures Classics
"All The People I'll Never Be" ("Return to Seoul")
Sony Pictures Classics didn't just acquire "All The People I'll Never Be," but also renamed it to "Return to Seoul" for its domestic release. Davy Chou directed the film that is playing in the Un Certain Regard competition of Cannes. The film is the story of a 25-year-old woman who, on an impulse, returns to South Korea, where she was born before being adopted and raised in France, for the first time. The headstrong young woman starts looking for her biological parents in a country she knows so little about, taking her life in new and unexpected directions.
Neon ahead of the festival acquired competition title "Broker" from the Palme D'or winning director of "Shoplifters," Hirokazu Kore-eda. Kore-eda is Japanese but made his debut in Korean on "Broker" in partnership with the Korean media giant CJ ENM. The film follows Sang-hyun (Song Kang Ho) and Dong-soo (Gang Dong Won) as "brokers of goodwill," who connect unwanted babies with new parents on the black market. When a new baby is dropped off, Sang-hyun and Dong-soo embark on a road trip to meet prospective parents, but are surprised when the birth mother (Lee Ji Eun) unexpectedly shows up to join them on their journey.
"Girl" director Lukas Dhont's second feature "Close" has landed at A24 ahead of its main competition screening at Cannes. The film is the story of two 13-year-old boys whose friendship suddenly becomes gets disrupted and leads one of the boys to approach his old friend's mother to understand what happened. Dhont also wrote the screenplay with Angelo Tijssens.
IFC Films has acquired the North American rights to "Corsage," a costume drama starring "Phantom Thread" actress Vicky Krieps, that premiered at Cannes in the Un Certain Regard competition. Marie Kreutzer directed the film that is a story about the Empress Elisabeth of Austria known by the name "Sissi" from the 19th Century. The film has earned rave reviews out of Cannes and is arguably one of the best reviewed films of the festival thus far.
"Decision to Leave"
Mubi was the surprise buyer at last year's Cannes, and they wasted no time in 2022, picking up Park Chan-wook's "Decision to Leave," a crime drama playing in the main competition that is the Korean director's first feature film since 2016's "The Handmaiden." The film tells the story of a detective investigating the death of a man in the mountains, only to develop an interest in the dead man’s mysterious wife once she becomes a suspect in the case.
Neon acquired the North American rights to "Enys Men," a horror film from director Mark Jenkin that is premiering in the Director's Fortnight section of Cannes. Mary Woodvine and Edward Rowe star in the film that was shot on 16mm color negative using a 1970s clockwork Bolex camera and post sync sound and was made to give the feel of discovering a mysterious old roll of celluloid. Inspired by "Don't Look Now," "The Wickerman" and "Straw Dogs," the film is set in 1973 off the British coast at an uninhabited island and follows a wildlife volunteer who descends into a journey on the island that challenges her grip on reality.
"The Five Devils"
Mubi also acquired the rights to the Director's Fortnight title "The Five Devils" from director Léa Mysius ("Ava") and featuring star Adele Exarchopoulos ("Blue Is the Warmest Color"). The film follows newcomer Sally Dramé as a strange and solitary girl named Vicky with the magical gift of being able to reproduce and bottle any scent she finds — including that of her mother (Exarchopoulos). When her father’s sister (Swala Emati) suddenly reappears in their conservative Alpine village, Vicki finds that reproducing her aunt’s smell helps unlock a series of memories as well as secrets about her village and her family.
Utopia, which launched in 2019, acquired the North American rights to Ali Abbasi's thriller and "Persian Noir" film "Holy Spider" following its premiere in the main competition of Cannes. The film is the story of a female journalist in Iran investigating a serial killer who is murdering sex workers, only to find that misogynistic authorities in the region quietly view him as a hero and won't lift a finger to assist her investigation. "Holy Spider" is inspired by the true story of a 2001 serial killer in Iran and is Abbasi's follow-up to his Un Certain Regard winner "Border."
Sony Pictures Classics
"One Fine Morning"
Sony Pictures Classics has acquired the North American rights and other territories to "One Fine Morning," the latest film from French director Mia Hansen-Løve and starring Léa Seydoux. The film played in the Director's Fortnight section at Cannes and is the story of a young mother fighting to get her ailing father the proper care he needs while forming a passionate affair with an old friend.
Mobra Films/IFC Films
"R.M.N." marks the fifth collaboration between Romanian auteur Cristian Mungiu and IFC Films, which picked up his latest film ahead of its premiere in the Cannes main competition. "R.M.N." stars Marin Grigore and Judith State and is the story of a man who, a few days before Christmas, returns to his multi-ethnic Transylvanian home after having quit his job and trying to become more involved with raising his son and reconnecting with his former lover.
"Triangle of Sadness"
In Neon's third deal out of Cannes, the arthouse distributor acquired Ruben Östlund's social satire "Triangle of Sadness," which is playing in the main competition at the festival. Harris Dickinson and Woody Harrelson star in the English-language gross-out comedy about a luxury cruise for the super-rich that winds up shipwrecked on a deserted island.