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Magnolia Pictures Acquires Romanian Crime Story ‘The Whistlers’

Corneliu Porumboiu’s film premiered at Cannes in Competition

Magnolia Pictures has acquired the North American distribution rights to “The Whistlers,” a crime movie from Romanian director Corneliu Porumboiu that premiered in competition at Cannes, an individual with knowledge of the deal told TheWrap.

Magnolia intends to release “The Whistlers” later this year.

Porumboiu is one of the members of the Romanian New Wave of cinema and is the director of 2006’s “12:08 East of Bucharest” and 2009’s “Police, Adjective,” which won the Un Certain Regard at Cannes that same year. Porumboiu’s latest follows a crooked police officer who wants to free a businessman from an island in the Canaries but has to learn a bizarre local language involving whistling, hissing and spitting in order to do so. 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.”

“‘The Whistlers’ is no minimalist slice of realism, but an oversized, deliciously twisted ride that runs on an endless supply of black humor and a sizeable body count,” TheWrap’s Steve Pond wrote in his review of the film. “You won’t laugh much while you’re watching it, but it’s a hoot nonetheless.”

“The Whistlers” stars Vlad Ivanov, Catrinel Marlon, Rodica Lazar, Antonio Buil, Agustí Villaronga, Sabin Tambrea, Julieta Szonyi, and George Pistereanu. It’s a production of a 42 Km Film, Les Films du Worso, and Komplizen Film production in co-production with ARTE France Cinéma, WDR, Film I Vast, Filmgate Films, and Studioul de Creatie Cinematografica with the support of Romanian National Film Center, Eurimages, Bord Cadre Films, and Cinema City.

“Toni Erdmann” director Maren Ade is also a producer along with Marcela Mindru Ursu, Patricia Poienaru, Sylvie Pialat, Benoît Quainon, Janine Jackowski and Jonas Dornbach.

“‘The Whistlers’ is an incredible gush of pure entertainment,” Magnolia president Eamonn Bowles said in a statement. “Corneliu Porumboiu has been making brilliant films for the last few years and he has outdone himself with his most crowd-pleasing work yet.”

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 handling worldwide sales.

Deadline first reported the news of the acquisition.