Berlin Film Fest Hot List: 20 Titles Likely to Sell

5:55 AM 2/6/2017

by Scott Roxborough

Amid a sea change in global politics, these projects have the buzz to stand out even as insiders say international buyers and sellers are more cautious than ever. Says one: "Everyone is feeling the ripple effect."

'The Other Side of Hope,' 'Return to Montauk'
'The Other Side of Hope,' 'Return to Montauk'
Courtesy of Berlinale

Last year, George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh set the Berlin film market alight with hot star-studded projects Suburbicon and Logan Lucky (both now in production), but Berlin in 2017 looks decidedly chilly. International distributors have become more risk-averse, and political uncertainty —thank you, President Trump — is likely to make things worse.

"It's not a cyclical aberration, this is the new normal," says Paul Hanson of Convert Media, whose Berlin slate includes Ophelia, a retelling of Shakespeare's Hamlet that stars Daisy Ridley and Naomi Watts. "The business is less frothy, people are becoming more judicious in what they buy, and everyone is feeling the ripple effect."

Adds Russell Levine of Route One Entertainment, producer of Sundance hit Landline, "The foreign sales market is very volatile."

Barring last-minute additions, art house films will be attracting most of the buzz at the European Film Market (Feb. 9 to 17) — with these 20 titles likely to lead the pack.

  • Anna and the Apocalypse

    Courtesy of Berlinale

    THE BUZZ It's a comedy musical about a girl (rising British star Ella Hunt) who has to fight — and sing — her way through a zombie invasion. What's not to like?

    STATUS Shooting

    INTERNATIONAL SALES AMP International

    DOMESTIC SALES XYZ Films

  • The Art of Hearing Heartbeats

    Courtesy of Other Press

    THE BUZZ This is an adaptation of Jan-Philipp Sendker's global best-seller (pictured) about a woman trying to unravel the mystery of her New Yorker father's connection to a Burmese woman.

    STATUS Development

    INTERNATIONAL SALES Wild Bunch

  • The Chocolate Money

    Kate Beckinsale
    Kate Beckinsale
    Getty Images

    THE BUZZ Rock of Ages helmer Adam Shankman is set to direct Kate Beckinsale as chocolate heiress Babs Ballentyne in this adaptation of an Ashley Prentice Norton best-seller.

    STATUS Preproduction

    INTERNATIONAL SALES Cornerstone Films

  • City of Ghosts

    Courtesy of Sundance

    THE BUZZ The latest doc from Oscar-nominated Matthew Heineman (Cartel Land) follows a group of citizen journalists who use their reporting to push back against ISIS.

    STATUS Completed

    INTERNATIONAL SALES Cinetic Media

  • The Delinquent Season

    Cillian Murphy and Andrew Scott
    Cillian Murphy and Andrew Scott
    Getty Images

    THE BUZZ A domestic drama about two couples whose suburban and marital bliss are put to the test, it stars Cillian Murphy, Andrew Scott (who plays Moriarty in the BBC's Sherlock), Eva Birthistle and Catherine Walker.

    STATUS Postproduction

    INTERNATIONAL SALES Protagonist Pictures

  • Dragged Across Concrete

    Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn
    Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn
    Getty Images

    THE BUZZ Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn reunite for this thriller from S. Craig Zahler, playing cops forced to go underground when their strong-arm tactics spark media outrage.

    STATUS Preproduction

    INTERNATIONAL SALES Bloom

  • Hard Powder

    Liam Neeson
    Liam Neeson
    Getty Images

    THE BUZZ New Liam Neeson actioner from Norwegian helmer Hans Petter Moland (A Somewhat Gentle Man) in which the Taken star plays a hard-working snowplow driver who has to leave his quiet mountain life when he son his murdered and he seeks revenge.

    STATUS Preproduction

    INTERNATIONAL SALES StudioCanal

  • The Hero

    Courtesy of Sundance

    THE BUZZ Hot off a Sundance sale to The Orchard, Brett Haley's drama, which stars Sam Elliott as an aging Western film star diagnosed with cancer, already is generating early Oscar talk.

    STATUS Completed

    INTERNATIONAL SALES Gersh

  • Last Flag Flying

    Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston and Laurence Fishburne
    Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston and Laurence Fishburne
    Getty Images

    THE BUZZ Richard Linklater is directing this comedy-drama starring Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston and Laurence Fishburne as older versions of the characters played by Randy Quaid, Jack Nicholson and the late Otis Young in Hal Ashby's 1973 classic The Last Detail.

    STATUS Preproduction

    INTERNATIONAL SALES FilmNation

  • Lost in London

    Screengrab

    THE BUZZ Woody Harrelson's directorial debut is an experimental event movie simultaneously shot and broadcast live on Jan. 19 that co-stars Owen Wilson and Willie Nelson.

    STATUS Completed

    INTERNATIONAL SALES Bloom

    DOMESTIC SALES CAA

  • Love Child

    Penelope Cruz and Edgar Ramirez
    Penelope Cruz and Edgar Ramirez
    Getty Images

    THE BUZZ Penelope Cruz and Edgar Ramirez are attached to star in Todd Solondz's latest, described as a dark and hilarious twist on the classic Oedipal them.

    STATUS Preproduction

    INTERNATIONAL SALES MadRiver Pictures

  • The Other Side of Hope

    Courtesy of Berlin International Film Festival

    THE BUZZ Finnish auteur Aki Kaurismaki makes his debut in competition in Berlin with this story of a Syrian refugee who crosses paths with a Finnish traveling salesman. This is the director's follow-up to his 2011 sleeper hit Le Havre.

    STATUS Completed

    INTERNATIONAL SALES The Match Factory

  • The Promise

    Courtesy of TIFF

    THE BUZZ Directed by Oscar winner Terry George (Hotel Rwanda) this story of a love triangle set in the final days of the Ottoman empire comes with star power in the form of Oscar Isaac, French-Canadian Charlotte Le Bon and Christian Bale.

    STATUS Completed

    INTERNATIONAL SALES Sierra/Affinity

  • Radegund

    August Diehl and Matthias Schoenaerts
    August Diehl and Matthias Schoenaerts
    Getty Images

    THE BUZZ Terrence Malick's latest, about Franz Jagerstatter, a conscientious objector under Hitler's Third Reich, stars August Diehl (Inglourious Basterds) and Matthias Schoenaerts.

    STATUS Postproduction

    INTERNATIONAL SALES Mister Smith Entertainment

  • Return to Montauk

    Courtesy of Berlin International Film Festival

    THE BUZZ The adaptation of Colm Toibin's novel, starring Stellan Skarsgard and Nina Hoss, already is being hailed as a comeback for Volker Schlondorff, the director of 1979's Oscar-winning German foreign-language film The Tin Drum.

    STATUS Completed

    INTERNATIONAL SALES Gaumont

    DOMESTIC SALES ICM Partners 

  • Siberia

    Keanu Reeves
    Keanu Reeves
    Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Profile

    THE BUZZ Hot off John Wick 2, Keanu Reeves returns in this drama as an imperiled diamond trader who gets into trouble on a trip to Russia for a meeting with a shady local partner.

    STATUS Preproduction

    INTERNATIONAL SALES IM Global

    DOMESTIC SALES WME Global

  • Stockholm

    Ethan Hawke and Noomi Rapace
    Ethan Hawke and Noomi Rapace
    Getty Images

    THE BUZZ Ethan Hawke and Noomi Rapace star in this drama from Born to Be Blue helmer Robert Budreau about the real-life 1973 kidnapping that gave rise to the term "Stockholm Syndrome," in which hostages form an intense bond with their captors.

    STATUS Preproduction

    INTERNATIONAL SALES Sierra/Affinity

  • Sweetness in the Belly

    Saoirse Ronan
    Saoirse Ronan
    Getty Images

    THE BUZZ Brooklyn star Saoirse Ronan attached to play the lead in this immigrant romance based on the novel by Camilla Gibb. Ethiopian filmmaker Zeresenay Mehari will direct with Brooklyn producers Parallel Films producing.

    STATUS Development

    INTERNATIONAL SALES Hanway

  • Teen Spirit

    Max Minghella
    Max Minghella
    Getty Images

    THE BUZZ Brit actor Max Minghella (The Social Network) is set to make his directorial debut in this underdog story set in the world of pop music, with the soundtrack coming from the team behind La La Land.

    STATUS Development

    INTERNATIONAL SALES Mr. Smith Entertainment

    DOMESTIC SALES CAA

  • Snow Ponies

    Gerard Butler
    Gerard Butler
    Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic/Getty Images

    THE BUZZ Gerard Butler stars in this actioner, about a crew of 7 hardened men traveling across a desolate landscape to deliver a mysterious package. It will mark the feature debut of second unit director Darrin Prescott (Captain America: Civil War, John Wick 2).

    STATUS Preproduction

    INTERNATIONAL SALES Sierra/Affinity

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