By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com July 28, 2011 at 2:26AM
While Sundance Selects Grabs Nanni Moretti's 'Habemus Papum'
One of the more puzzling outcomes of the Cannes Film Festival has been the failure of Aki Kaurismaki's "Le Havre," which was second only to "The Artist" as far as crowd-pleasing hits on the Croisette go, to land a distributor. Sure, Kaurismaki's never exactly been a cross-over director in the U.S, but his latest, a hilarious, touching look at illegal immigration, picked up outstanding reviews and audience reactions -- we called it a "pure delight."
Fortunately, someone's stepped up, as Screen Daily reports that the film has now been acquired by Janus Films, with the company's Peter Becker saying, "we are thrilled that Aki Kaurismaki has entrusted us with this jewel of a film. It is one of those rare movie experiences so filled with hope, love, compassion, and humour that it will leave audiences glowing." It's mixed news: on the plus side, Janus' close relationship with the Criterion Collection means that a shiny Criterion version of the film shouldn't be far away from the film's theatrical release. The boutique label has already been making many of Kaurismaki's older works available, issuing his Proletariat Trilogy and recently announcing a set with his trio of films about the Leningrad Cowboys. But on the minus, we'd rather hoped it would land with someone bigger, who might give it more of a theatrical push to a wider audience. It's easily Kaurismaki's most accessible film to date and we'd hate to see it only play to his already small but established fanbase.
In other belated Cannes pick-up news, Sundance Selects has acquired Nanni Moretti's entry "Habemus Papam," which follows a candidate for the papacy who starts to have doubts in himself. The film also got strong (although not rave) reviews at the festival; we called it "bracing, honest and even a little shocking." There's no exact news of release dates for either this or "Le Havre," but we hope they'll manage to squeeze onto the calendar before the end of the year.