Sony Pictures Classics Acquires Polish Oscar Contender ‘The Peasants’

The animated film premiered in Special Presentations at the 2023 Toronto Film Festival

The Peasants Sony Pictures Classics
"The Peasants" (Sony Pictures Classics)

Sony Pictures Classics has acquired all rights in North America, Latin America, the Middle East and Australia/New Zealand to DK Welchman and Hugh Welchman’s “The Peasants,” the studio announced Friday.

Chosen by Poland as its official submission for the 2024 Oscars in the Best International Feature category, “The Peasants” will also enter the race for Best Animated Feature. No additional release plans were disclosed.

The animated film had its world premiere at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival as part of the Special Presentations section.

The film was initially shot as a live-action feature film, followed by an extensive two-year process involving a team of over 100 painters to create the intricate painting animation. This identical painting animation technique had previously been utilized in the filmmakers’ Oscar-nominated work “Loving Vincent.”

“The Peasants” tells the story of Jagna, a young woman determined to forge her own path within the confines of a late 19th century Polish village – a hotbed of gossip and on-going feuds, held together, rich and poor, by pride in their land, adherence to colorful traditions and a deep-rooted patriarchy. When Jagna finds herself caught between the conflicting desires of the village’s richest farmer, his eldest son and other leading men of the community, her resistance puts her on a tragic collision course with the community around her.

“100 years ago, Reymont, an author little known outside of Poland, won the Nobel Prize for Literature and his book travelled to over 100 countries worldwide. We hope our adaptation of his book, ‘The Peasants,’ brought to life in oil-painting animation will similarly reach out and touch audiences around the globe and, like he did, find award success too,” DK Welchman and Hugh Welchman said in a statement to TheWrap. “There could be no better partner in this endeavor than Sony Pictures Classics, with their incredible catalogue that includes many of our favorite films of all time and iconic animations that achieved the very rare feat of being nominated in the Best International Film category at the Oscars and Golden Globes.”

“The Peasants” was produced by Breakthru Films and co-produced by Digitalkraft d o.o., Art. Shot vsį, Breakthru Productions Sp. z o.o., Canal + Polska S.A., Narodowe Centrum Kultury, Mazowiecki Instytut Kultury, and SKP Ślusarek Kubiak Pieczyk Sp. k., in association with New Europe Film Sales and Carte Blanche, and with the support of Polish Film Institute, Film Center Serbia, and Lithuanian Film Center. It was co-financed by The Polish National Foundation and financed by funds from the Minister of Culture and National Heritage.

The film reunites Sony Pictures Classics with Breakthru Films, which is one of the producers on their upcoming film, “A Winter’s Journey.”

The deal was brokered between SPC, Jan Naszewski of New Europe, and Nick Shumaker from Anonymous Content.

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