MADRID - Ramping up its slate of films from young, cutting-edge Latin American directors, North American distributor Film Movement has acquired Venezuelan Joel Novoa's "God's Slave," a standout Latin American debut.
Described as "riveting" by Roger Ebert, "God's Slave" also won Novoa selection for Variety's latest Latin America: Up Next, a ten-to-track of Latin America's rising director and producer stars.
Winning the Nueva Vision Award after its premiere at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival earlier this year, it also scooped top kudos at the Palm Beach Festival and and at the Huelva and Lleida fests in Spain.
Film Movement will set a day-and-date theatrical, VOD and digital release in early 2015, and then bow "God's Slave" in home video.
Based on true events - the 1994 AMIA car-bombing in Buenos Aires, which left 85 people dead - "God's Slave" tracks Ahmed, trained since childhood as an Islamic terrorist, now assigned to execute a suicide bombing at a synagogue, and David, the cold-blooded Israeli special agent who will stop at nothing to prevent the attack.
As a young child. Ahmed witnessed his family's murder by Israeli terrorists; David also saw his brother blown up by a suicide bomb.
Produced by the helmer's father, Jose Novoa, a distinguished director in his own right ("Sicario," "A Distant Place"), "God's Slave" is, however, nuanced: Neither man, is defined solely by their extremist views. Ahmed, posing as a doctor, lives happily with his wife and young son; David's marriage is on the rocks, but he remains devoted to his wife and daughter.
With time running out before the attack, David zeros in on Ahmed as a suspect, his investigation culminating in violent, if unexpected, consequences.
Fast cut and jump-cut in editing, using flash-backs to get under the skins of its characters, "God's Slave" represents a stand-out example of the mix between character-driven entertainment and true-life inspiration which raises large issues. The mix is producing some of the outstanding films being made in Latin America today.
The deal was finalized this week by Film Movement's co-president Adley Gartenstein and VP of acquisitions Rebeca Conget, with Matthew Shreder and James Andrew Felts, partners at Continental Media.
"We were completely awestruck by Joel Novoa's stunning debut," said Conget.
"At Film Movement, we take great pride in discovering new talent, and we're particularly excited to add our first Venezuelan film to our catalog," she added.
"It is clear from the first few scenes of 'God's Slave' that Novoa is already an incredibly accomplished filmmaker, and we are thrilled to be the ones to be supporting the beginning of what is sure to be a long and successful career."
Film Movement's most recent acquisitions also include Sundance World Cinema Grand Jury Award Winner "To Kill a Man," from Chile's Alejandro Fernandez Almendras, another fast-rising Latin American director who meshes a drama-thriller and wider issues, plus Paolo Virzi's "Human Capital," a Tribeca Festival best actress winner for Valeria Bruni Tedeshi, and war photographer drama "1,000 Times Good Night," starring Juliette Binoche, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Larry Mullen.