7:30 AM EST, February 6, 2014
BERLIN - Funny Balloons, the Paris-based sales agent behind two big Berlin arthouse hits - 2012's "No," 2013's "Gloria" - has set its largest sales slate ever with movies by Laurent Cantet, Sebastian Silva, Abel Ferrara, and Gustave de Kervern and Benoit Delepine, and Arnold de Parscau.
A 2008 Palme d'Or winner ("The Class"), Cantet is in post on "Vuelta a Ithaca." Written with Cuba's Leonardo Padura, "Ithaca" takes in an old-friends reunion dinner on a Havana rooftop-terrace. Full House, Orange Studio, Haut et Court and Funny Balloons produce; Haut et Court distributes in France.
"A very universal story about friendship and relationships, in the unique context of Cuba," per Funny Balloon's founder Peter Danner, "Ithaca" has already struck pre-sales.
Penned by Delepine ("Mammuth"), 25-year-old Arnold de Parscau's "Ablation," - "a beautiful, original, moody film noir," per Danner - boasts an unusually top-notch cast for a debut: Denis Menochet, the French farmer in "Inglourious Basterds," Virginie Ledoyen ("Farewell My Queen"), Julie Delpy ("2 Days in New York"), two-time Cesar winner Yolande Moreau ("When the Sea Rises," "Seraphine").
Funny Balloon's build is natural, Danner argued. "When you have relationships that continue developing, you get more projects."
But it also marks production trends. "As financing resources shut down or contract, sales agents are increasingly being asked to co-finance films, to get them made," Danner said.
On Silva's "Nasty Baby," a Brooklyn-set adoption tale starring Kristen Wiig, Silva himself and Tunde Adebimpe, Funny Balloons produces with Chile's Fabula ("No," "Gloria") and Versatile. It sells in association with Versatile, the eight time Funny Balloons has handled Fabula films.
Production began last week on Ferrara's "Passolini," starring Willem Defoe, about Passolini's last days before being murdered on a beach in Ostia in 1975. France's Capricci, Belgium's Tarantula and Italy's Urania Pictures backed by Arte Cinema, Eurimages, Canal Plus and the Wallimage film fund.
At Berlin, Funny Balloons will also introduce an untitled, under-wraps movie from Delepine and De Kervern. "It will be a total surprise," Danner said.