US thriller Kill the Messenger, vampire fantasy Blood Sisters, romantic comedy Love, Rosie, drama Parkland, Golden Bear winner Child's Pose, Chilean comedy-drama Gloria and Lars von Trier's Nymphomaniac were among the films that generated the biggest buzz at the Berlin International Film Festival.
All will be released in Australia due to some canny pre-buys and on-the-spot deals by Australian distributors.
The festival also proved to be an effective launching pad for two Australian films from first-time directors, Kim Mordaunt's Laos-set The Rocket (pictured), the saga of a boy who sets out to build a giant rocket to dispel fears that he is cursed; and Stephen Lance's My Mistress, a romantic drama revolving around a French S&M mistress (Emmanuelle Béart) and a vulnerable teen (Harrison Gilbertson). The Rocket won the fest's best first feature prize, the Crystal Bear for best feature in the Generation KPlus section, and the Amnesty International Prize.
It was a productive market for Tine Kint of Danish-based sales agent LevelK. “We got a great response to The Rocket,” she tells SBS Film. “We are discussing with several distributors how to best market a film for grown-ups when children have the lead roles. We also got great feedback for My Mistress and we did pre-sales.”
Palace Films nabbed Child's Pose, Romanian director CÄƒlin Peter Netzer's drama about a mother trying to save her son from prison. “It's absolutely terrific, an extraordinary, gripping portrait of corruption, power and twisted motherhood,” said Palace Films general manager Nicolas Whatson, who closed the deal on Saturday night.
Palace also snared Tenderness, Belgian director Marion Hänsel's tale of a divorced couple bringing their son home following a minor ski accident, and Spanish helmer Cesc Gay's A Gun in Each Hand, a contemporary ensemble comedy set in Barcelona.
The consensus among international buyers who attended Berlin's European Film Market is that business generally was far from brisk, with few stand-out titles. So the Australians' generally upbeat view bucked that trend.
“It was a good market for us,” says Transmission Films' co-founder Andrew Mackie, who snapped up four titles including Kill the Messenger, which features Jeremy Renner as a reporter who becomes the target of a vicious smear campaign after he exposes the CIA's role in arming Contra rebels in Nicaragua and importing cocaine; and Queen of the Desert, Werner Herzog's biopic of Middle East adventurer Gertrude Bell, which stars Naomi Watts, Jude Law and Robert Pattinson. Transmission also secured two French films, Les beaux jours, which stars Fanny Ardant, and Cycling with Moliere.
Last year Transmission pre-bought Nymphomaniac, the lurid tale of a woman who recounts her sordid life to a stranger after he saves her from a beating, starring Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan Skarsgård, Shia LaBeouf, Jamie Bell, Christian Slater and Uma Thurman; and The Best Offer, Giuseppe Tornatore's Old World mystery set in Europe's high-rolling art world, starring Geoffrey Rush, Jim Sturgess, Sylvia Hoeks and Donald Sutherland.
In a coup for Rialto Distribution, it won a bidding war for Sebastián Lelio's Gloria, the chronicle of a middle-aged divorcée (Paulina Garcia) who searches for love in Santiago.
Hoyts Distribution nabbed Blood Sisters, the first film adaption from Richelle Mead's popular young adult novels Vampire Academy, to be directed by Mean Girls' Mark Waters.
The plot follows two young vampires who attend a school designed to help vampires remain somewhat human as they mature. Hoyts also grabbed Love, Rosie, the saga of girl who discovers she's pregnant after one night with the most popular boy at school, starring Lily Collins and Sam Claflin, directed by Christian Ditter (French for Beginners). Also headed to Hoyts is parent company StudioCanal production Our Kind of Traitor, a spy thriller adapted from a John Le Carré novel for which Ralph Fiennes and Mads Mikkelsen are in advanced talks to star.
Thanks to multi-territory deals signed by parent company eOne, Hopscotch collared The Good Lie, Canadian director Philippe Falardeau's drama about a young refugee of the Sudanese Civil War who wins a lottery to enter the US with three other lost boys, starring Reese Witherspoon; and Yves Saint Laurent, which features Pierre Niney as the famed designer and Guillaume Gallienne as his partner and collaborator Pierre Berge.
Prior to Berlin, Hopscotch eOne secured Olivier Dahan's Grace of Monaco, which stars Nicole Kidman as US film star Grace Kelly, who left Hollywood to become Princess Grace of Monaco; and The Invisible Woman, the true story of the secret love affair between Charles Dickens (Ralph Fiennes) and actress Nelly Ternan (Felicity Jones).
Last year Roadshow landed Parkland, a drama that recounts the chaotic events at Dallas' Parkland Hospital on the day US President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, starring Zac Efron, Marcia Gay Harden, Billy Bob Thornton, Jacki Weaver, Paul Giamatti, Jackie Earle Haley, Ron Livingston and Mark Duplass.
Madman Entertainment acquired The Act of Killing, Joshua Oppenheimer's gruesome account of Indonesian gangsters who perpetrated mass murder following the military coup of 1965, and The House I Live In, Eugene Jarecki's documentary about the war on drugs and its impact on American society.
Icon reportedly bought The Laureate, a biopic of the English poet and novelist Robert Graves, featuring Imogen Poots and Sam Claflin, and Atom Egoyan's Queen of the Night, a thriller starring Ryan Reynolds, Mireille Enos, Scott Speedman and Rosario Dawson.