Venice Film Fest Kicks Off With Spate of Deals

Salvatore Shoemaker of Dream
Venice Film Festival

Sony picked up worldwide rights for a Luca Guadagnino doc, while Italian drama 'Nowhere Special' and Greek feature 'Apples' also sold wide in a positive sign for the international indie film industry.

In a welcome sign for a struggling independent film market, the Venice Film Festival kicked off this week with a series of international deals.

Sony Pictures Classics picked up worldwide rights, outside of Italy, for Luca Guadagnino’s documentary Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams, which covers the life of fashion icon Salvatore Ferragamo. Beta Cinema unveiled a series of pre-sales on Uberto Pasolini's Nowhere Special, a title from Venice's Orizzonti sidebar. Greek director Christos Nikou's Orizzonti opener Apples locked in deals with the U.K. and Ireland (Curzon Artificial Eye), as well as Australia/New Zealand (Madman Entertainment).

These deals weren't actually struck in Venice. The venerable Italian film festival, unlike the Cannes or Berlin festivals, has never had a true film market. But by announcing their deals on the Lido, sales outfits are sending a positive signal to the industry that the post-coronavirus comeback of indie cinema is underway.

"Luca Guadagnino is back!" said Sony Pictures Classics, announcing the Salvatore deal. SPC worked with the Italian director on the U.S. release of his award-winning romantic drama Call Me By Your Name, which picked up four Oscar nominations and a best adapted screenplay win for James Ivory. Sony also recently acquired the Italian documentary The Truffle Hunters, which Guadagnino executive produced, and will release it in December. The Salvatore deal, negotiated between SPC and  eOne’s Sierra/Affinity  on behalf of the filmmakers, was the first worldwide sale of a 2020 Venice title and bodes well for the coming days as the festival gets into gear.

Ahead of the Sept. 10 Venice premiere of Nowhere Special, Beta announced it had nearly sold out the film across Europe, with deals reached with ARP in France, A Contracorriente Films in Spain, Piffl Medien in Germany, and Scanbox in Scandinavia, among others. Lucky Red has picked up the film for Italy, and Beta also closed deals for Japan (Kino Films), Australia/New Zealand (Icon Film Distribution), Canada (MK2/Mile), and Brazil (Great Movies), among many other territories. Beta said it expects to close deals for the U.S. and U.K. on Nowhere Special over the course of the festival. James Norton stars in the drama, about a 35-year-old single father trying to raise his four-year-old son after the mother left them both. 

Alpha Violet also sold multiple territories for its Orizzonti title, with Curzon Artificial Eye in the U.K. and Ireland and Madman picking up Australia and New Zealand rights on Nikou's directorial debut Apples. The fairytale-like story of a world hit by a pandemic that causes amnesia was also selected to play in the canceled Telluride Film Festival. CAA is handling U.S. sales rights.