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Memento Films International’s Artscope Boards Ilian Metev’s Locarno-Bound ‘3/4’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Variety logo Variety 7/20/2017 John Hopewell
© Provided by Variety

Artscope, Paris-based Memento Films Intl.’s label for new talent, has boarded Ilian Metev’s eagerly-awaited “3/4,” his follow-up to “Sofia’s Last Ambulance,” which won the France 4 Visionary Award at the 2012 Cannes Critics’ Week.

Set to world premiere early August in the Locarno Cineasts of the Present, the Swiss festival’s more cutting-edge section for younger directors, “3/4” marks Metev’s move into fiction –  though it is said to still very much rooted in the observational documentary approach used winningly in “Sofia’s Last Ambulance.”

Written by Metev and Betina Ip, his editor on “Sofia’s Last Ambulance” and partner at Bulgaria’s Chaconna Films, “3/4”stars an ensemble of non-professional actors, led by Mila Mihova, Nikolay Mashalov and Todor Velchev, who took part in a year-long workshops to create “3/4’s” portrait of a family spending its last summer together.

In “3/4,” Mila, a young pianist, prepares for an audition abroad. Her brother, Niki, tries to distract her with his unwanted talent for the absurd. Their astro-physicist father Todor seems incapable of dealing with his children’s anxieties, the synopsis runs.

Like “Sofia’s Last Ambulance,” “3/4” is produced by Germany’s Ingmar Trost at Germany’s Sutor Kolonko. Metev also produces for Chaconna. It is backed by the Bulgarian National Film Center, the North Rhine-Westphalia’s Film und Medien Stiftung fund in Germany, German broadcaster ZDF’s Das Kleine Fernsehspiel and European TV network Arte. It has been supported by the E.U.’s Creative Europe Media Program and put through an Eave producers workshop.

“Ilian’s film is a wonderfully delicate and playful exploration of a family on the verge of change,” said MFI’s Sata Cissokho and Nicholas Kaiser, who oversee Artscope, in a joint statement.

“The film’s main three characters keep on surprising you and the sense of intimacy comes as much from their discussions and actions as from their silences and doubts,” they added, saying they hoped for “some great festival life for everyone to experience this quiet gem.”

“When Ilian approached me with the idea for ‘3/4,’ I was quickly taken, as much with the filmmaking approach as with the subtle emotionality of the family story and its elusive moments of togetherness,“ said Sutor Kolonko’s Trost.

He added: ”The project felt like a natural continuation, not only of our collaboration, but also to Ilian’s work on the borderline between fiction and documentary that already distinguished ‘Sofia’s Last Ambulance.’“

Premiering at Cannes Critics’ Week, “Sofia’s Last Ambulance” trains its camera on the faces of a chain-smoking doctor, nurse and driver, unsung heroes who suffer the strain of punishing daily work manning one of the only 13 ambulances in Bulgaria’s Sofia, a city of almost two million inhabitants. “Faces convey all that auds need to know in tyro helmer Ilian Metev’s rigidly constructed and deeply human doc ‘Sofia’s Last Ambulance,’” Variety’s review announced.

Ranging around the world in its celebration of up-and-coming talent with strong original voices, Artscope’s latest acquisitions include Indian director Chaltanya Tamhane’s debut “Court,” which won the Lion of the Future Award at Venice; Australian theater director Rosemary Myers’ “Girl Asleep, a rites-of-passage fantasy drama that opened Berlin’s 2016 Generation 14plus sidebar to enthusiastic reviews; and Gabriel Mascaro’s second feature, “Neon Bull,” a Venice Horizons’ Special Jury Prize winner and original portrait of Brazil’s fast-transforming North-East still brimming, however, with strict social hierarchies, as well as sex and sensuality.

Chaconna Films was founded in 2010 by Metev and Ip “to playfully push the boundaries of cinema.”

Based out of Cologne, Sutor Kolonko has an adventurous line in international co-productions, young directors and films meshing recourses from documentary and fiction, such as recent Edinburgh Festival winner “Donkeyote.”

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