Cannes: Sony Classics Wins U.S. Rights to 'The Past' (Exclusive)

"The Past"

UPDATED: Michael Barker and Tom Bernard's specialty unit is a natural fit for Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi's new film, which made its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival last Friday.

CANNES - Sony Pictures Classics has finalized a deal to acquire U.S. rights to Cannes Film Festival critical darling The Past (Le Passe), from Iranian director Asghar Farhadi and the Paris-based Memento Films, according to sources.

Michael Barker and Tom Bernard's shop is a natural fit for the French drama, considering that SPC released Farhadi's Iranian film A Separation, which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2012. The Past is likewise sure to be an awards contender.

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Premiering Friday night in competition, the complex family melodrama -- starring The Artist's Berenice Bejo, Ali Mosaffa and Tahar Rahim -- drew rave reviews from critics. It is set in the outskirts of France, where Ahmad (Mosaffa) returns at the request of his wife (Bejo), from whom he's been separated for four years. She wants to finalize their divorce. 

"Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi pursues his exploration of guilt, choice and responsibility in a superbly written, directed and acted drama that commands attention every step of the way. As in his previous work, the story is set within a family and children are once again the main victims," wrote The Hollywood Reporter reviewer Deborah Young.


A deal with Sony Classics would mark another win for Memento Films' international sales company, which is enjoying a busy Cannes. The Weinstein Co.'s Radius label has acquired North American rights to writer-director Jeremy Saulnier's Blue Rain.

Neither Sony Classics nor Memento would comment.