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France’s Luxbox Acquires ‘Eternal Feminine,’ ‘They,’ ‘Bad Lucky Goat’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Variety logo Variety 5/3/2017 Elsa Keslassy
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PARIS– Luxbox, the Paris-based banner launched by Fiorella Moretti and Hedi Zardi 18 months ago, has boarded Natalia Beristain’s “The Eternal Feminine” (Los Adioses), Anahita Ghazvinizadeh’s Cannes-bound feature debut “They” and Samir Oliveros’s “Bad Lucky Goat.”

“The Eternal Feminine” charts the life of Rosario Castellano, a feminist intellectual who was one of Mexico’s most important literary voices of the 20th century, from her college years in the early 1950’s in Mexico City to her rise as one of the biggest female writers in Mexican literature and her tumultuous love story with Ricardo Guerra. The movie shows how, at the peak of her career and marriage, Castellano sparked a discussion over women’s rights which marked a turning point in her life.

“In many ways, ‘The Eternal Feminine’ is a contemporary film: Rosario Castellano was a modern woman who fought to gain basic rights and when we see how women are treated around the world, even in developed countries, it’s obvious that there are still battles to wage,” said Zardi.

An up and coming filmmaker, Beristain previously directed the critically-acclaimed shorts “I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone” which played at Venice Critics’ Week in 2012 and “Banana Fish” which unspooled at Cannes Critic’s Week and Morelia fest in 2008. “The Eternal Feminine” will be delivered in the fall.

“The Eternal Feminine” was presented at the work-in-progress workshop of Ventana Sur.

Meanwhile, “They,” which is set to play in Cannes Film Festival’s special screenings, is a thought-provoking drama about a 14 year-old from the Chicago suburbs who suffers from a gender identity disorder. After taking hormone blockers to postpone puberty for two years, the teenager has to make a decision whether or not to transition over a crucial weekend.

“I try to picture the moments that bring out the urge for self-determination: those situations that function as a delay in which the child grows out rather than up, to drive thinking about the possibilities of becoming for a child, and ponder the philosophical and ethical questions of what constitutes a person and what determines personhood,” stated Ghazvinizadeh, a rising American-Iranian director whose short “Needle” received the Cannes Cinefondation award in 2013 from the hands of Jane Campion and the Silver Hugo at Chicago fest.

Ghazvinizadeh, who grew up in Tehran, participated in a workshop with Abbas Kiarostami, graduated from the Art Institute of Chicago and later traveled to Houston to develop the script of “They” at a residency for visual artists at the Museum of Fine Arts.

Luxbox lastly picked up Samir Oliveros’s “Bad Lucky Goat,” a quirky debut feature which premiered at SXSW.

Set over 24 hours, the zany comedy follows Corn and Rita, two incompatible siblings in their teenage years who must work hand-in-hand after accidentally killing a bearded goat with their father’s truck. Shot with a micro-budget, the critically-acclaimed debut was recently acquired by Film Movement in the U.S.

Luxbox’s big Cannes slate also includes three films set for Cannes’ Directors Fortnight: Jonas Carpignano’s “A Ciambra” the helmer’s follow up to “Mediterranea;” Lithuanian director Sharunas Bartas’s “Frost” which sheds light on the Ukraine conflict and stars Vanessa Paradis; and Bruno Dumont’s daring musical drama “Jeannette, the childhood of Joan of Arc.”

A narrative feature film filled with electro music composed by Igorrr, “Jeannette” depicts Joan of Arc’s transition from peasant girl to holy warrior. Based on a play by Charles Péguy, “Jeanette” is choreographed by Philippe Découflé.

Dumont, who was described by Waintrop during Directors’ Fortnight presser as an iconoclastic auteur, competed at Cannes last year with “Slack Bay” and presented “Li’L Quinquin” at Director’s Fortnight in 2014. “Jeanette” will be released in France by high-profile outfit Memento Distribution.

Bartas is also a well-established director. His credits include “Peace to us in our dreams,” which played Cannes Directors’ Fortnight, “Freedom,” which played at Venice and a pair of Un Certain Regard players: “The House” and “Few of us.” Directors Fortnight topper Edouard Waintrop described “Frost” as a captivated film marking a milestone in Sharunas Barats’s work.

Luxbox’s current roster underscores the young company’s ambition: pursue relationships with established world directors and welcome promising filmmakers, pointed out Zardi, a well-connected exec who worked for Public Systeme Cinema and Torino Film Lab, and Moretti, who previously headed ND Mantarraya and co-founded NDM.

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