Our Daily ISA (International Sales Agent): Memento ♀: Closing Night Film

by Sydney Levine
May 22, 2010 10:38 AM
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Memento is an art house film company choosing only 8 art house, high-profile, director driven films a year. Since 1999 Memento's Emilie George and her young and dynamic team has been devoted to promoting their projects with a maximum of commitment, rather than merely selling. Whether it is high-end arthouse fare with a medium-sized budget or cutting-edge low-budget projects from emerging talents, they value originality most, whether narrative or from the cinematographic vision of the director.They can offer tailor–made synergies and business expertise through four companies; from production (Memento Films Production & La Cinefacture), International sales (Memento Films International) to French distribution (Memento Films Distribution), and non-theatrical placements such as festivals, cinematheques, art institutes and galleries (Artscope) according to the specific needs of each project.

They have recently worked with renowned and award-winning filmmakers such as Francis Ford Coppola, Laurent Cantet, Emanuele Crialese, Hiner Saleem, Jia Zhang-ke, Ramin Bahrani, Gilles Marchand and Olivier Assayas. Attending major industry events (Sundance, Berlin, Tokyo FF, Hong Kong Filmart, Cannes, Venice, Toronto, AFM, Pusan), their ambition is to nurture and to consolidate talents around the world, with award winning, original and innovative strategies which will establish long-time synergized relationships with worldwide partners.

Their specialized label called Artscope aims to give fully to some masterpiece the notion of work of ART. We systematically develop event screenings in relation to non commercial circuits and places of culture (museums, houses of photography, galleries).

The Tree is the Closing Night Film of the Official Competition. Its selection took place after the first 16 titles were announced and after a-so-far-unacknowledged-by-the-festival huge international outcry went up over the immediate glaring fact that not a single picture chosen was directed by a woman in the Competition area. (Last year there were three directors: Jane Campion, Isabel Coixet and Andrea Arnold.) Not too long after the cry went up however, the Closing Night film was announced and it was The Tree. Coincidently the international sales agent for the film is a company Memento Films International founded by a woman named Emilie Georges and the film is about a woman who must face the difficulties of mourning with her young four children after her husband suddenly dies. Her only daughter, 8 year old Simone, has a secret: her father whispers to her through a magnificent tree.

Director Julie Bertucelli was born in 1968. She worked as Assistant Director to a series of well-known directors including Otar Iosseliani, Krystof Kieslowski, Bertrand Tavernier, Emmanuel Finkiel and Rithy Panh. She went on to direct a number of documentaries, all of which proved to be a considerable success. Since Otar Left is her first feature film. It won the Grand Jury Prize of the Critic's week at Cannes in 2003. She studied philosophy before being trained as a documentary filmmaker at the Ateliers Varan in Paris.

She chose this film out of her fascination with trees and when she was not able to option Italo Calvino's The Baron in the Trees, she became obsessed with finding a story with a Tree. A cousin gave her the book Our Father Who Art in the Tree by Judy Pascoe. In an interview with a Julie Bertuccelli published in Memento's press book, she states:

The story's central character of the tree sparked off my desire, and its themes strongly inspired me, to the point of imagining my second film.

An Australian producer, Sue Taylor, had already acquired the rights. Yael Fogiel, my producer, and I contacted her. She watched my first film, Since Otar Left, and we started working together. The book was written from the point of view of the child, but I chose to include that of the mother. I wanted to make a movie for grown-ups, with tenderness and humour. It flirts with the possibility of a supernatural world while being deeply rooted in realism and simplicity.

The credits on this film, from director, producer, stars and story's point of view, even the personnel of the sales company itself all contribute to making this film possibly the strongest feminist statement of this year's batch of films. The number of women directors has dramatically decreased over the last ten years. However on a more positive note, the number of women producers has dramatically risen.

Other films on Memento's Cannes slate include:

Black Heaven (L'autre Monde) By Gilles Marchand - Completed
The Monk (Le Moine) By Domink Moll - Production
The Woman In The Fifth By Pawel Pawlikowski - Production
Think Global, Act Rural (Solutions Locales Pour Desordre Global ) By Coline Serreau - Completed
For Ellen By So Yong Kim - Production
Hello Darkness By Richard Glatzer - Production
Ici (Temporary Title) By Angelo Cianci - Completed
Puzzle (Rompecabezas) By Natalia Smirnoff - Completed
Shahada (Faith) By Burhan Qurbani - Completed
Tehroun (Teheran) By Nader T. Homayoun - Completed

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