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PRODUCTION / FUNDING Azerbaijan / Mexico / USA

EXCLUSIVE: France’s MPM Premium boards Hilal Baydarov’s Crane Lantern


- The Azeri director’s new feature follows a law student who seeks out a man imprisoned for kidnapping four women

EXCLUSIVE: France’s MPM Premium boards Hilal Baydarov’s Crane Lantern
Crane Lantern by Hilal Baydarov

Paris-based outfit MPM Premium has boarded the world sales of Hilal Baydarov’s new feature Crane Lantern, Cineuropa has learned. Born in 1987 in Baku, Baydarov graduated in Computer Sciences and then left for Sarajevo to study at the film.factory, under acclaimed Hungarian filmmaker Béla Tarr. He debuted with Hills Without Names, which premiered at the Montreal Film Festival in 2018. A prolific artist, Baydarov helmed seven features in just four years. His most recent effort, In Between Dying [+see also:
film profile
, took part in the main competition at the 2020 Venice Film Festival.

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Crane Lantern follows Musa, a law student who seeks out Davud, a man imprisoned for kidnapping four women. He soon discovers that all of his victims have no wish to press charges; on the contrary, they have the feeling of having discovered a new truth within themselves. Musa’s encounter with the purported criminal becomes a journey into someone else’s inner world. Are the questions he asks the correct ones? Is the law a genuine form of justice? What is the meaning of humans imposing punishment on others? Is Musa being enlightened by a superior man, or is he being lured into a world of illusion?

Talking about his project, Baydarov disclosed to Cineuropa: “My father was a worker in this petroleum field, and I spent too many days there. The mysterious sound of oil rigs is always on my mind. I was sitting there and looking at the sky, observing the birds, cranes and crows. I truly believe that landscapes have a strong effect on the human soul. I can’t film anywhere where I don’t have memories. And now I am almost my father’s age, and I am full of mixed emotions when I see it, especially when I go there, because the sound of it is still the same, and the cranes, crows and other birds are still in the sky, but my father has been gone for years.”

Commenting on the acquisition, MPM Premium’s founder, Marie-Pierre Macia, said: “Together with Carlos Reygadas and Joslyn Barnes, we are excited to be supporting Baydarov’s latest work. The precise and powerful composition of the images and the mise-en-scène are striking, echoing the cinema of masters like Béla Tarr and Andrei Tarkovsky. With Baydarov, we are witnessing the birth of a great filmmaker.”

The film’s confirmed cast includes Orxan İskəndərli, Elşən Abbasov and Hüseyn Nəsirov. Kənan Rüstəmli is taking care of its score, whilst the director himself is in charge of its set design and editing.

Crane Lantern is a co-production between Azerbaijan’s Ucqar Film, Mexico’s Splendor Omnia Studios and US-based Louverture Films. The feature is being produced by Elşən Abbasov, Carlos Reygadas and Baydarov himself. The executive producers are Danny Glover and Joslyn Barnes, whilst Sarah D’hanens serves as the associate producer. Moreover, the project will be pitched to potential buyers at the upcoming MIA Market in Rome, running this year from 13-17 October.

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