French Abortion Drama ‘Happening’ Acquired by IFC Films and FilmNation

Audrey Diwan’s film won the Golden Lion at this year’s Venice Film Festival

diwan_levenement Happening Venice
Courtesy of Venice Film Festival

“Happening,” the French abortion drama that won the top prize at this year’s Venice Film Festival, has been acquired for U.S. release in a bidding war by IFC Films and FilmNation Entertainment, the two companies announced Tuesday.

Audrey Diwan directed the film that picked up the Golden Lion at this year’s Venice. The film is an adaptation of Annie Ernaux’s semi-autobiographical novel of the same name.

IFC Films will release “Happening” in theaters early next year, and the movie could wind up as France’s submission to the Oscars Best International Feature race. An individual with knowledge adds that the film will receive a 45-day theatrical window when it opens.

“Happening” is set in France in 1963 and follows a bright young student who gets pregnant, which complicates her plans to finish her studies and escape the constraints of her social background. With her final exams fast approaching and her belly growing, Anne resolves to act, even if she has to confront shame and pain, and even if she must risk prison to do so.

“Through the lens of IFC Films and FilmNation, I realized what ‘Happening’ could represent to audiences in the U.S. I feel incredibly supported by this alliance, whose common goal is to take this story to new heights and champion my artistic vision. Arianna Bocco and Glen Basner have both long advocated for compelling and important films, which assures me this partnership that we are about to embark on together will be an extremely exciting one,” Diwan said in a statement.

“Happening” was produced by Rectangle Productions’ Édouard Weil and co-produced by Srab Films.

“Audrey has crafted an award-winning film that puts a face on the choices women have to make, achieving something incredibly rare and rewarding in its powerful depiction of humanity. We look forward to working with Audrey, Glen and the entire filmmaking team to bring this film to the widest audience possible in the U.S.,” Arianna Bocco, president of IFC Films, said.

“Audrey’s stunning and powerful film could not be more timely and we are thrilled to collaborate with Arianna and her team at IFC Films to bring this emotional cinematic experience to U.S. audiences,” Glen Basner, CEO of FilmNation Entertainment, said.

“Happening” is Audrey Diwan’s second film after 2019’s “Losing It,” which she also wrote. She’s also known as a screenwriter on the films “The Stronghold,” “The Connection” and “The Man With the Iron Heart.”

IFC has been busy on the festival circuit this year, scooping up other buzzy international titles such as “Bergman Island,” “Benedetta” and “Paris, 13th District.”

The deal for the film was negotiated by IFC Films’ President Arianna Bocco with CAA Media Finance and Wild Bunch on behalf of the filmmakers. Wild Bunch International is handling international sales.

Deadline first reported the news.