Cannes 2021 Deals: The Complete List of Festival Acquisitions

·6 min read

Last year, the pandemic forced organizers to call off the full-fledged Cannes Film Festival. This year, the festival is staging a comeback and will welcome industry players, including distributors looking for completed films at the buzzy festival, back to the Croissette July 6-17.

There are early signs that this year’s Cannes could be defined by robust market activity. Some of the buzzy titles that scored early distribution include Leos Carax’s English-language debut and festival opener “Annette.” Amazon scooped that up four years ago. Another Cannes favorite director, Paul Verhoeven, saw his latest effort acquired by IFC Films last week: lesbian nun drama “Benedetta.”

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IFC announced another acquisition, Mia Hansen-Løve’s”Bergman Island,” the day after the festival lineup was announced.

Last year’s Cannes included a list of official selections that allowed films to display the festival’s laurels, including Oscar winner “Another Round.” But actual activity was limited to a very abbreviated “special edition” staged in October, plus an online Marche du Film over the summer.

Below find a constantly updated list of acquisitions, beginning with the most recently announced. Note that the list does not include titles from the Marche du Film or Directors’ Fortnight.

Title: “Flag Day”
Section: In Competition
Buyer: MGM

Sean Penn directs himself and his daughter — Dylan Penn, in her first leading role — in this adaptation of Jennifer Vogel’s memoir “Flim-Flam Man: The True Story of My Father’s Counterfeit Life.” The film follows Vogel’s coming of age over two decades while navigating a fraught relationship with her father, con man John Vogel.

MGM is planning a 2021 theatrical release through its United Artists Releasing joint venture.

Title: “Bergman Island”
Section: In Competition
Buyer: IFC Films

Mia Hansen-Løve’s film stars Vicky Krieps and Tim Roth as a pair of inspiration-seeking American filmmakers who retreat to the mythical Fårö, home and favored filming location of Ingmar Bergman. Before long, the line between fiction and reality blurs and tears the couple further and further apart. This marks IFC’s fourth partnership with Hansen-Løve; the company most recently distributed her 2016 Silver Bear winner “Things to Come.”

Title: “Benedetta”
Section: In Competition
Buyer: IFC Films

For his first film in five years, director/co-writer Paul Verhoeven reunites with the scribe from 2016’s Elle, David Birke, to craft a story about sexuality, religion, and human ambition. “Benedetta” follows a young nun (Virginie Efira) in 17th century Italy who begins an affair with another nun.

Title: “Val”
Section: Premieres
Buyer: Amazon

Directors Leo Scott and Ting Poo’s documentary focuses on Val Kilmer and includes never-before-seen footage captured by Kilmer over the course of 40 years.

Amazon in May announced a deal to distribute the film in the U.S. and Latin America later this year. Producer A24 controls the remainder of the worldwide rights.

Title: “A Hero”
Section: In Competition
Buyer: Amazon

Plot details of “A Hero,” the latest film from two-time Oscar-winning Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi, are being kept under wraps. The Farsi-language film was shot in Shiraz, Iran and stars Amir Jadidi, Mohsen Tanabandeh, Sarina Farhadi, and Fereshteh Sadr Orafaie.

Amazon announced it had acquired the film in April and plans to release it laster this year.

Title: “Paris, 13th District”
Section: In Competition
Buyer: IFC

Jacques Audiard’s drama was shot in Paris during the pandemic with a screenplay co-written by him, “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” filmmaker Céline Sciamma, and Léa Mysius (“Ava”). Starring Lucie Zhang, Makita Samba, Jehnny Beth, and Noémie Merlan, the film follows four young adults who are friends and sometimes lovers navigating relating to each other and their gender, feelings, sexuality, and the concept of fidelity.

IFC bought U.S. rights during the European Film Market in March.

Title: “Red Rocket”
Section: In Competition
Buyer: A24

Sean Baker’s follow up to his Oscar-nominated “The Florida Project” stars Simon Rex as a washed up porn star who returns to his Texas hometown. The script was penned by Baker and frequent collaborator Chris Bergoch and was shot by “Waves” DP Drew Daniels.

A24, which distributed “The Florida Project,” is planning a theatrical release for the film.

Title: “The Velvet Underground”
Section: Out of Competition
Buyer: Apple

Todd Haynes’ documentary about the rock band features in-depth interviews, a collection of never-before-seen performances, Warhol films, and other experimental art that aims to create an immersive experience.

Apple announced the acquisition in October.

Title: “Mothering Sunday”
Section: Premieres
Buyer: Sony Pictures Classics

Eva Husson’s drama stars Odessa Young, Josh O’Connor, Olivia Colman, and Colin Firth and was adapted from Graham Swift’s novella by Emmy nominee Alice Birch (“Normal People,” “Lady Macbeth”). The film follows a maid (Young) given the day off to celebrate the engagement of her employer’s neighbor’s son (O’Connor), a significant occasion given the fact that the pair have been lovers for seven years.

SPC acquired rights for North America and several foreign territories in September.

Title: “Blue Bayou”
Section: Un Certain Regard
Buyer: Focus Features

Justin Chon directed, wrote, and stars in a film about the story of Antonio LeBlanc, a Korean adoptee raised in the U.S. who is forced to confront his distant past and what it means for his future when he faces deportation.

Focus will handle U.S. distribution and parent Universal will handle international as part of a worldwide deal that was inked at last year’s Cannes virtual market.

Title: “Memoria”
Section: In Competition
Buyer: Neon

“Memoria” marks Palme d’Or-winning director Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s first film shot outside his native Thailand. Starring Tilda Swinton as an orchid farmer and set in Colombia, plot details are being kept under wraps. The film is one of two Weerasethakul is premiering at the festival, along with “The Year Of The Everlasting Storm.”

Neon acquired North American rights for the film at AFM in 2019.

Title: “The French Dispatch”
Section: In Competition
Buyer: Searchlight

Wes Anderson’s 10th feature stars Benicio del Toro, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Bill Murray, Timothee Chalamet, and Saoirse Ronan and brings to life a collection of stories from the final issue of an American magazine published in a fictional 20th Century French town.

Searchlight, which bought the film back in fall 2019, is planning an October 22 theatrical release.

Title: “Annette”
Section: In Competition
Buyer: Amazon

Amazon inked a deal to distribute Leos Carax’s English-language debut all the way back in 2017. The musical stars Adam Driver as a stand-up comedian and Marion Cotillard as a world-famous soprano. The couple’s life takes an unexpected turn when their daughter Annette is born with a unique gift. The screenplay, original songs, and score were written by Ron Mael and Russell Mael, members of the innovative pop band Sparks and subjects of Edgar Wright’s 2021 documentary “The Sparks Brothers.”

Amazon will release the film in theaters in the U.S. on August 6 and on Prime Video on August 20.

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