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MPM picks up Workers and Habi, the Foreigner

EXCLUSIVE: Sales arm of Paris-based production house MPM heads to EFM with biggest slate to date.

MPM Film has picked up international sales on Mexican director Jose Luis Valle’s Workers and Argentine Maria Florencia Alvarez’ Habi, the Foreigner (Habi, la extranjera) ahead of their premieres in the Berlin International Film Festival’s Panorama section.

“We acquired both films last week through good relationships we have with their respective producers,” said MPM sales chief Pierre Menahem.

Other new additions to the MPM slate include British-based Palestinian director Mahdi Fleifel’s documentary A World Not Ours, chronicling everyday life at the Palestinian PleAin el-Helweh refugee camp in Southern Lebanon, which premiered at Toronto and went on to win best documentary and the FIPRESCI and NETPAC awards at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival.

Alvarez’ debut feature Habi, the Foreigner revolves around a young Argentine woman from the provinces who stumbles upon a Muslim community in Buenos Aires during a visit to the city.

She is so fascinated by the culture that she re-invents herself, adopting an Arabic name and getting a job in an Arab supermarket – the false persona gives her a new life and an immense sense of freedom but also throws up questions of identity.

Veteran producer Lita Stantic – who fostered the debut works of Pablo Trapero and Lucrecia Martel among others — produced Habi alongside compatriot Hugo Sigman of K&S Films and Brazilian Walter Salles, through his Rio De Janeiro-based VideoFilmes Produções Artística.

Set against the Mexican industrial city of Tijuana, Jose Luis Valle’s Workers revolves around a factory cleaner and a housemaid who manage to get the better of their abusive employees, recovering their rights and dignity in the process.  The picture, produced by Zensky Cine, was a recipient of the Berlinale’s World Cinema Fund in 2011.

Both titles are premiering in the Berlinale’s Panorama section and as debut features are also in the running for the festival’s Best First Feature award.

Fleifel’s A World Not Ours — produced by the director and Irish, London-based Patrick Campbell through their joint-owned Nakba Filmworks — will get its European premiere in the Panoramadokumente section of the Panorama selection. Eurozoom Distribution is set to release the film theatrically in France after its Berlin screening.

Alongside these three new films, MPM will also market screen existing titles Jem Cohen’s Museum Hours, Ali Aydin’s Mold and Paul Negoescu’s A Month in Thailand.

Menahem commented that EFM slate was MPM Film’s biggest since he created the sales arm for Marie-Pierre Macia and Juliette Lepoutre’s Paris-based production company in 2011. 

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