The Meridiana is the hotel in Venice in which sales agent Helen Loveridge stayed when she was working on Hou Hsiao-hsien’s 1989 Golden Lion winner, City Of Sadness. In recognition of that triumph, it is the name she has given to her new, London-based sales outfit Meridiana Films, which aims to handle between six and eight films a year.
Having worked for Jane Balfour Films, Orfeo Films International and spent9 years at Fortissimo Film Sales, which she co-founded, Loveridge is vastly experienced in international sales. ‘There’s always a place for good films. With the right handling, they can reach the right target,’ she says.
Looking ahead to Cannes, Meridiana will be unveiling Altiplano, the latest feature from Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth (the team behind the Mongolia-set Khadak). Loveridge has high expectations for the film, whose lead actress Magaly Solier was seen in Berlin Golden Bear winner The Milk Of Sorrow. It is about a war photographer who travels with her doctor husband to the Andes, where they find a remote village has been struck by a mercury spill.
Another new title Loveridge is handling is $8m Owl Song, a Shine-style biopic of Australian composer Peggy Glanville-Hicks, being made through Australian outfit MusicArtsDance. Neve Campbell headlines the cast which also includes Maria De Medeiros. The immediate aim is to complete the financing and lock down the two male leads.
Last month in Berlin, Loveridge introduced some other Meridiana pick-ups to buyers. These included Megan Doneman’s feature documentary Yes Madam, Sir about Kiran Bedi, India’s first female police officer. Also on Meridiana’s Berlin slate was Sadik Ahmed’s Bangla western, The Last Thakur, which was made under a groundbreaking initiative between UK distributor Artificial Eye and the UK’s National Film and Television School. Artificial Eye is releasing the film theatrically in the UK in the early summer.
Showing its mixed tastes, Meridiana is handling sales on jazz documentary Anita O’Day: The Life Of A Jazz Singer by Robbie Cavolina and Ian McCrudden.
Loveridge, who also spent three years as executive director of the Seattle International Film Festival, does not pretend this is an ideal time to launch an independent sales outfit. ‘It’s harder because the buyers go to the markets for less time. They’re all concentrating on the brand-new films. For anything else, it’s really hard to get their attention,’ she says of the ongoing battle to reach distributors at events such as Berlin’s European Film Market.
Nonetheless, the Meridiana founder is confident that good films, lovingly handled, will still find a home.