Berlin: Domestic Deals for Alex Camilleri's 'Luzzu,' Tracey Deer's 'Beans'

Luzzu
Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

'Luzzu'

Kino Lorber has picked up North American rights to Sundance title 'Luzzu,' with FilmRise acquiring Berlin 2021 title 'Beans.'

Halfway through and Berlin's European Film Market is starting to heat up, with a number of deals being signed for finished features.

In a pair of domestic acquisitions announced mid-market, Kino Lorber snatched North American rights to Luzzu, Alex Camilleri's directorial debut, which premiered at Sundance, and fellow New York distributor FilmRise took U.S. on Beans, another first feature, from filmmaker Tracey Deer, which bowed in Toronto last year and is screening in the Generation section of the 2021 Berlin International Film Festival this week.

Set on Malta, Luzzu features a cast of professional and non-professional actors —including many Maltese fisherman playing versions of themselves—in a story of a confrontation between ancient tradition and modern-day bureaucracy. Lead Jesmark Scicluna won the Special Jury Award for best actor at Park City.

Kino Lorber plans to release the film in North America later this year.

"Nothing is more exciting than to see the emergence of a new filmmaking talent, and I suspect Luzzu is just the first of many great things to come from Alex Camilleri," said Kino Lorber SVP Wendy Lidell in a statement. "Luzzu shimmers with a heart and humanity that is reminiscent of the Dardenne brothers and Vittorio De Sica, awash with the beautiful colors of the Maltese seaside and telling a universal story that will touch anyone who sees it."

Memento International, who are handling world sales on the film, have sold Luzzu to several international territories, including the U.K. (Peccadillo), France (Epicentre), China (Hugoeast), Spain (Wanda), Scandinavia (Edge), Portugal (Legendmain), Greece (Weirdwave), Former Yugoslavia (Kino Mediteran), and Eastern Europe (HBO).

The North American deal was negotiated by Lidell for Kino Lorber and Mathieu Delaunay Head of Sales of Memento International on behalf of the filmmakers.

FilmRise and WaZabi Films inked the U.S. deal for Beans, with the New York distributor taking domestic rights for Deer's feature-length debut.

The coming-of-age story about a twelve-year-old Mohawk girl forced to grow up fast during the 1990 Indigenous uprising known as The Oka Crisis, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last year, where Deer won the TIFF Emerging Talent Award and the film was the second runner up in the festival's People’s Choice Award. Beans was picked for the 2021 Berlin festival's Generation sidebar.

The Beans deal was negotiated by FilmRise CEO Danny Fisher and WaZabi Films Co-President Anick Poirier. "Beans is a perfect addition to our library of films showcasing important stories from underrepresented populations," Fisher said in a statement. "Deer has created a powerful, eye-opening perspective about an historic event that shook the Indigenous community of Quebec exactly 30 years ago."

Berlin's online-only 2021 European Film Market runs through Friday, March 5.