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Sony Pictures Classics Picks Up Another Middle Eastern Film and Foreign Oscar Submission

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood October 2, 2012 at 1:26PM

In advance of its New York Film Festival screening next week, Israel's Oscar entry "Fill the Void," has been acquired by Sony Pictures Classics. Israel sends its Ophir Best Picture winner to the Oscars.
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'Fill the Void'
'Fill the Void'

In advance of its New York Film Festival screening next week, Israel's Oscar entry "Fill the Void," has been acquired by Sony Pictures Classics. Israel sends its Ophir Best Picture winner to the Oscars. Writer Rama Burshtein's directorial debut "Fill the Void" won a total of seven Ophirs. The film played Venice and Toronto; here are reviews from THR and The Playlist. SPC plans a 2013 release.

SPC has been picking up many films from the Middle East, including incendiary Shin Bet doc "The Gatekeepers," which the company will qualify for the documentary Oscar this year (their other doc contender is "West of Memphis")."We go where the good movies are," says SPC co-president Tom Bernard. "We go where there's fish."

SPC has done well with Middle Eastern titles in the past, from Israel's Oscar nominee "Waltz with Bashir" to last year's Iranian winner, Asghar Farhadi's  "A Separation." (This year Iran is boycotting the Oscars.) Post-Telluride and Toronto SPC has also acquired U.S. rights to "The Patience Stone," which is adapted from the Prix Goncourt-winning 2008 novel and directed by Atiq Rahimi ("Earth and Ashes") as well as North American rights to "Wadjda," written and directed by the first Saudi Arabian woman filmmaker, Haifaa Al-Mansour, as well as the first feature film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia, which did not submit a film for the foreign Oscar.

SPC's other foreign submissions include Chile's "No," starring Gael Garcia Bernal, and Michael Haneke's French-language "Amour," from Austria, which won the Palme d'Or in Cannes and could also wind up with a best picture nomination. Stars Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva will vie for acting nominations; Haneke is a good bet for director.

Although France submitted The Weinstein Co.'s "The Intouchables" for the Oscars over Jacques Audiard's Cannes entry "Rust and Bone," SPC will pursue best picture and actress nominations for the film, which stars Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard.

"Fill the Void" producer Assaf Amir previously worked with Sony Classics on "Broken Wings." Here's the synopsis:

FILL THE VOID tells the story of a young Orthodox Hassidic girl, Shira, and her family as they are struck by tragedy when her older sister dies in childbirth, just when Shira is about to be married.  When her sister's husband is pressured to remarry and her mother makes a shocking proposal, Shira is forced to choose between her heart’s wish and her family duty.

This article is related to: Academy Awards, Awards, Awards, Oscars, Sony Pictures Classics, Sony/Screen Gems/Sony Pictures Classics


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.