EXCLUSIVE: U.S. distributor Adopt Films has provided Deadline with its first official trailer for Yuval Adler’s Bethlehem. The director’s feature debut won six Israeli Academy Awards earlier this year and is Israel’s entry for the Foreign Language Oscar. The film focuses on an Israeli Secret Service officer and his teenage Palestinian informant, the younger brother of a sought-after militant. Bethlehem is still in theaters in Israel following its September bow and has been buzzed about for a slot on the Foreign Language shortlist. It’s set for a February 21st release in the U.S.:
Last year, I offered up a preview of the 15 films that had the most buzz going into the unveiling of the Foreign Language Oscar shortlist. Somehow this year, with a record 76 entries (last year it was 71), I whittled down another 15 films that have a shot at the shortlist which is expected to be finalized later this week. This was not an easy task in one of the strongest fields for foreign film in recent years. While 2012′s eventual winner Amour seemed like a foregone conclusion, this year has any number of possible outcomes. Movies that started their careers in Berlin and Cannes are represented below, but so are others that didn’t make it to those high-profile events. I spoke with the directors of each film about their inspirations and expectations, and in some cases with the U.S. distributor about what gave them the confidence to acquire. Notably, Harvey Weinstein clarifies the controversy surrounding an edit of Wong Kar Wai’s Hong Kong entry The Grandmaster. There’s also a lot more here from folks like Paolo Sorrentino, Thomas Vinterberg and Sebastian Lelio, among many others. The rules for selecting the final winner have changed this year with the entire Academy voting body able to weigh in without proving they have seen the films in a movie theater. But the regs for establishing the shortlist remain the same: The Phase I committee determines six of the nine films on the shortlist. The other three titles will be determined by the select Foreign Language Film Award Executive Committee. Those three extra titles might have international renown but been somehow overlooked by the larger committee (wink, wink City Of God, 4 Months, 3 Weeks And 2 Days and others). After that, an uber-committee of 30 higher profile members chooses the ultimate five nominees after viewing the finalists over the course of a long weekend. Below (in alphabetical order by title) are profiles of the 15 films that I believe have a shot at the first stage: Read More »
Adopt Films Picks Up ‘Zurich’ For U.S.
New York-based Adopt Films has acquired all U.S. rights to Frederik Steiner’s Zurich. The drama had its world premiere at the HOF Film Festival in Munich last month and is scheduled for a wide theatrical release in Germany in the spring. Zurich is Adopt’s third German acquisition in two years following Christian Petzold’s Barbara and Caroline Link’s Exit Marrakech. The film is about a bright, independent-minded 20-year-old woman who’s had cystic fibrosis since birth. After watching her brother suffer through the same disease, she hatches a plan to travel to a private clinic in Zurich where she can end her life legally. Newcomer Liv Lisa Fries stars with Kerstin de Anna and Lena Stolze. The original screenplay is by Barbara te Kock. The movie will go out in the U.S. next summer. Read More »
Adopt Films has acquired all U.S. rights to Yuval Adler‘s debut feature Bethlehem. The movie premiered in Venice before heading to Telluride and Toronto. It’s also received 12 nominations at the Israeli Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Taking place largely in Jerusalem and the West Bank, it focuses on an Israeli Secret Service officer and his teenage Palestinian informant, the younger brother of a sought-after militant. Adler, who was signed by WME this month, co-wrote the screenplay with Ali Waked. Tsahi Halevi, Sahdi Marei, Haitham Omari, and Hisham Suliman star. Producers are Talia Kleinhendler and Osnat Handelsman-Keren for Tel Aviv based Pie Films, and Diana Elbaum and Sebastian Delloye of Entre Chien et Loup. Adopt’s Tim Grady and Jeff Lipsky negotiated the deal with WestEnd Film’s Maya Amsellem. Grady and Lipsky liken the film to Argo, except that the audience “doesn’t know in advance what will happen to the very charismatic characters at the end of the film and, thus, the suspense is unyielding from the very start. We were literally shaking when we left the Toronto screening and were determined to release it.” They will do so in late winter next year.
EXCLUSIVE: Yuval Adler, who co-wrote and made his feature directing debut on the Toronto entry Bethlehem, has inked with WME after being pursued by several agencies and management companies up north. The pic, which had its North American debut this week in the festival’s Discovery section, centers on a young Palestinian who is recruited as as an informant by the Israeli secret service Shin Bet, and he becomes caught between two very different kinds of loyalty when he discovers that his employers are plotting to assassinate his radical brother. The Israel-born Adler, who studied philosophy at Columbia University, spent years interviewing Shin Bet officers and Palestinian militants in the making of the movie, which has been nominated for 12 Israeli Academy Awards.