Wide House rides the crest of a wave to the EFM
by Fabien Lemercier
- On the slate of the documentary-focused sales agent are the Oscar-nominated I Am Not Your Negro, For Ahkeem and Lindy Lou, Juror Number 2
Making the most of a very positive climate, French international sales agent Wide House, which specialises in documentaries and is managed by Anaïs Clanet, will be heading to the European Film Market at the 67th Berlinale next week (9-19 February 2017) with a huge number of trump cards up its sleeve.
Two titles in particular are being showcased in the selection, spearheaded by Raoul Peck’s I Am Not Your Negro [+see also:
film profile] in the Panorama Dokumente, which has been nominated for the upcoming Oscar for Best Documentary, set to be handed out on 26 February. "We came across it as a work in progress at the IDFA in November 2015," recalls Clanet. "We then talked about it and signed a deal in August. Since its premiere at Toronto, the film has been received extremely positively wherever it has been screened, and we have already sold it for around 30 territories." Produced by France via Velvet Films together with the USA, Belgium (Artémis Productions) and Switzerland (Close Up Films), and co-produced by Arte France, I Am Not Your Negro is a radical story about the question of race in the United States, which uses nothing but the words of author James Baldwin. Garnering award after award ever since its premiere, the film, voiced by Samuel L Jackson, has won the Audience Awards at Toronto and Chicago, among others.
At Berlin, Wide House will also be putting its faith in the US documentary For Ahkeem by duo Jeremy S Levine and Landon Van Soest (who won an Emmy Award with their previous opus, Good Fortune), which has been selected in the Forum and revolves around a 17-year-old black girl who is placed in an alternative, court-supervised high school in Saint Louis. She falls in love and ends up pregnant, and then attempts to navigate the path to adulthood in a very trying environment.
Standing out among the market premieres organised by Wide House at the EFM is that of Lindy Lou, Juror Number 2, directed by French filmmaker Florent Vassault, who wrote the screenplay together with Cécile Vargaftig. Produced by Arnaud Dommerc for Paris-based outfit Andolfi and co-produced by Orlando Studio, this English-language documentary follows Lindy’s journey through Mississippi, as she seeks out the 11 other members of a jury she sat on 20 years prior, with whom she sentenced a man to death – a decision that became a source of unbearable guilt for her. Interestingly, the film will feature on the programme of the much-hyped True/False Film Festival (2-5 March 2017) in Columbia, Missouri, where I Am Not Your Negro will also be shown as the opening film.
Also arriving on the line-up is the Spanish documentary Constructing Albert by Laura Collado and Jim Loomis, which is currently being shot and reconstructs the emancipatory journey of chef Albert Adrià, who, together with his famous brother Ferran, founded the Catalan restaurant elBulli, which revolutionised molecular gastronomy.
Of note among the other market premieres are those of Move! Dance Your Life by French director Fanny Jean-Noël (who roamed the planet and visited 18 different places in order to immerse us in the universal medium that is dance), the Argentinian doc The German Neighbour by Rosario Cervio and Martin Liji (centred on Nazi Adolf Eichmann) and the German production Fritz Lang by Gordian Maugg.
(Translated from French)