Politics came to the Cannes Film Festival (as it often does) in the form of two major movie debuts in the course of 24 hours.
This morning one of the most-awaited films in the Official Competition unspooled for critics at 8:30 AM, and 2 1/2 hours after its start the verdict appeared to be critically mixed for Oscar winner Michel Hazanavicious’ The Search, first feature film since he won Best Director for his 2011 Best Picture winner The Artist. From my vantage point, his new film works on many levels — most importantly, a human one. There was applause at the end but some noticeable boos and I wouldn’t have been surprised if they came from the Russians. They don’t come off well in this story set in the second Chechen War in 1999 as Russians invade, and a young boy and his new baby brother are separated from their family after his parents are killed. Thus begins an incredible journey — and this film hooked me right in – in this contemporary remake of the post-World War II Fred Zinnemann film The Search (1948), in which a young boy is separated from his parents in a concentration camp and taken in by a caring soldier played by Montgomery Clift (Berenice Bejo has the Clift role this time, a gender change in which she plays a European Union delegation head).
The original Search won a Motion Picture Story Oscar and a special juvenile statuette for its young star, Ivan Jandl. It was also nominated for lead actor, director and screenplay. And deservedly so. Perhaps it is never a good idea to tackle a remake of such an honored film, but in this case using the basic premise to shine a larger light on a forgotten cause seems smart. And the boy’s plight is just one strand here, as there’s also the corresponding story focusing on a tough Russian street kid who is slowly turned into a killing machine when drafted into the army. It’s harrowing stuff to watch, but all of a sudden relevant again, coinciding with another Russian invasion of sorts currently happening in Ukraine. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: The Search, Michel Hazanavicius‘s follow to the Oscar-winning The Artist, is near a deal to broker Canadian rights to Remstar for around $500,000. The film is being sold by CAA and Wild Bunch for offshore sales, and the film is expected to be one that bidders jump on for U.S. rights, possibly before its Cannes premiere on Wednesday. Worldview Entertainment bought the North American rights at AFM last year, and I’ve heard that both The Weinstein Company and Fox Searchlight have been all over it to try and see the film before Wednesday. TWC would seem to have an inside track; it released The Artist and helped guide the silent black and white film to an unlikely Best Picture Oscar. And also, it made a long term alignment with Worldview just recently. The film stars Berenice Bejo and Annette Bening. It’s much different from The Artist. The Chechnya-set adaptation of 1948 Oscar winner The Search follows an NGO worker who bonds with a small boy who’s been separated from his mother in the war-torn nation. It is certainly beginning to look like good money is going to be spent before many buyers leave here.
The Artist helmer Michel Hazanavicius just inked actresses Bérénice Bejo and Annette Bening for his next film, a Chechnya-set adaptation of 1948 Oscar-winner The Search. Now Worldview Entertainment has snagged North American rights to the pic, which follows an NGO worker who bonds with a small boy who’s been separated from his mother in the war-torn nation. Filming is underway now overseas in Georgia and will next head to France. Hazanavicius penned the script updating the original tale’s setting from post-WWII Berlin to Eastern Europe. He reunites on the film with his Artist producer Thomas Langmann and leading lady Bejo. Worldview’s Christopher Woodrow, Molly Conners, Maria Cestone and Sarah E. Johnson will executive produce. CAA brokered the deal on behalf of Worldview. Wild Bunch is repping international sales at AFM.
Related: Bérénice Bejo & Annette Bening To Star In ‘The Search’