Cannes: Abderrahmane Sissako Unveils Follow-Up to Oscar-Nominated 'Timbuktu' (Exclusive)

Abderrahmane Sissako
Fabrizio Maltese

Abderrahmane Sissako, the director of Timbuktu, broke down in tears at a Cannes press conference as he described his film's depiction of brutal Islamist law that shattered the lives of innumerable families. "It's difficult.… We become more and more indifferent to the horrors if we're not careful," he said.

'The Perfumed Hill,' which Cohen Media has North American rights for and is co-producing, will shoot in 2019 across Africa and China.

Abderrahmane Sissako, the Oscar-nominated director of award-winning films such as Timbuktu and Bamako, has reunited with the Cohen Media Group on his latest project.

La Colline Parfumee (The Perfumed Hill), will mark the second collaboration between the acclaimed Mauritanian writer-director and co-writer Kessen Tall following Timbuktu, which competed for the Palme d’Or in 2014 and would go on to earn Academy Award and BAFTA nominations. The film, telling the story of a cattle herder during the brief occupation of Mali by Islamic militants in 2012, was released by CMG in the U.S., and picked up the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury and the Francois Chalais Prize in Cannes.

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter in Cannes, Sissako revealed that the film was "love story" set between Africa and China, and was inspired by a scene in his 2002 drama Waiting for Happiness.

Alongside picking up The Perfumed Hill for North American distribution, CMG has also come aboard the film as a co-producing partner alongside French producers Cinefrance and Archipel 35. The deal was negotiated by John Kochman, executive vp of Cohen Media, and Denis Freyd of Archipel 35.

“We are thrilled to continue our close relationship with Abderrahmane Sissako, whose uniquely lyrical storytelling simmers with urgency,” said CMG chairman and CEO Charles S. Cohen.

Principal photography on The Perfumed Hill will take place in 2019 on various locations in Africa and China.

CMG’s previous releases include Asghar Farhadi’s Oscar-winning The Salesman, and Oscar-nominated films Faces Places and The Insult.

A version of this story appears in The Hollywood Reporter's May 11 daily issue from the Cannes Film Festival.