Kino Lorber has acquired the U.S. rights to “Young Ahmed,” the latest film from Belgian auteurs Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, the distributor announced Wednesday.
The film made its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, where the Dardenne Brothers won the Best Director prize, and it will play at the upcoming New York Film Festival following a North American premiere at the COLCOA French Film Festival in LA. This acquisition gives Kino Lorber five films playing in NYFF’s main slate, including Kantemir Balagov’s “Beanpole,” Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles’s “Bacurau,” Pietro Marcello’s “Martin Eden” and Nadav Lapid’s “Synonyms.”
The film will be rolled out in theaters in early 2020, followed by VOD and home video release.
“Young Ahmed” is a portrait of a 13-year-old, Belgian-Arab Muslim teenager named Ahmed (played by newcomer Idir Ben Addi) who lives in a small town with a secular single mother and siblings. He has frighteningly become radicalized through the influence of a magnetic, local extremist imam and becomes fixated with killing his female teacher in the name of his religious convictions.
TheWrap’s Sharon Waxman said of “Young Ahmed” at Cannes that the film goes “where a documentary cannot” in its examination for how a young person could get radicalized and enamored with hard lined Islam.
“It would be hard to find a more relevant contemporary subject, and the Dardennes take a circumspect view that avoids judgments,” Waxman wrote. “Their regard of Ahmed, and of those trying to draw him back from a self-destructive path, is deeply humanist.”
“We are proud to present to U.S. audiences the latest masterwork from Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne. Like all their great films, ‘Young Ahmed’ portrays with great empathy a character grappling with a moral dilemma, and does so by telling an engrossing story bursting with suspense,” Kino Lorber SVP Wendy Lidell said in a statement.
“After our successful collaborations on releasing Godard’s ‘Goodbye to Language’ and many other films, we are happy to reconnect with Kino Lorber who shares our love for master directors such as the Dardenne Brothers,” the sales agent Wild Bunch said in a statement.
The deal for “Young Ahmed” was negotiated by Lidell and Eva Diederix, head of international sales of Wild Bunch, and CAA Media Finance.