MFI scores Directors’ Fortnight hat trick with Ilo Ilo and We Are What We Are.

Memento Film International (MFI) has acquired international rights to US director Jeremy Saulnier’s Blue Ruin ahead of its world premiere in Directors’ Fortnight.

It is one of three titles in the parallel sidebar handled by the Paris-based sales company.

MFI also recently took international rights to Singaporean Anthony Chen’s Ilo Ilo. Jim Mickle’s We Are What We Are, which the company executively produced, is also in the selection.  

Chen’s feature debut Ilo Ilo follows a number of short films including Grandma, which received a special distinction award when it screened in competition in Cannes in 2007. The feature draws on the director’s memories of a childhood nanny hailing from the Philippines.

Blue Ruin revolves around a mysterious beach bum whose life is upended after he receives some dreadful news. He returns to his childhood home to commit an act of revenge. He is an inept killer, however, and finds himself instead caught up in a battle to protect his estranged family.

The part crowd-funded picture was produced by Brooklyn-based Anish Savjani and Vincent Savino’s Film Science and Richard Peete’s Neighborhood Watch Films in association with Lab of Madness, a New York-based cinema collective involving Saulnier and other long-time indie filmmaking collaborators.

MFI ‘surprise’

It is the second film for Saulnier after the comedy horror picture Murder Party, which won the audience award at the 2007 Slamdance Film Festival.  

“It’s to discover films like this that I went into this profession,” Directors’ Fortnight artistic director Edouard Waintrop said of Blue Ruin during the selection’s announcement.

The acquisition adds to MFI’s growing collection of genre titles which includes We Are What We Are and V/H/S 2.

Blue Ruin took us completely by surprise,” said MFI managing director Emilie Georges.  

“This fresh take on a revenge story is defined by restrained direction, beautiful cinematography, and a truly startling ending convinced us immediately that we were dealing with a new, confident voice in genre.”

Saulnier said: “I was instantly won over by Memento’s enthusiasm for Blue Ruin. Given the quality of their catalogue and recent genre acquisitions, they’re the perfect fit for the film.”

Georges brokered the deal alongside MFI’s US representative Nicholas Shumaker with Savjani. 

More titles

Other festival titles on MFI’s slate include Iranian, Oscar-winning Asghar Farhadi’s Palme d’Or contender The Past, which the company rolled out to buyers last Cannes.

The company will also market premiere the recently acquired SXSW hit Short Term 12, which has already sold to Australia (Madman) and Japan (Pictures Dept), and Norwegian Rune Denstad Langlo’s Chasing the Wind, a wry melodrama about a woman who visits her estranged family after a decade’s absence.

Genre strategy

MFI’s genre strategy, meanwhile, appears to be paying off. The company has been doing good business on We Are What We Are and V/H/S 2 after their Sundance premieres earlier this year.

E1 secured a multi-territory deal on We Are What We Are, taking the UK, Scandinavia, South Africa and Australia.

The film has also sold to France (Wild Side in association with Le Pacte) Germany and Austria (Koch Media), Benelux (Cineart), Turkey (Kalinos), Brazil (Esfera Filmes), Bolivia (Londra Films) and South Korea (Zamie Pictures), Taiwan (Filmware), Japan (Transformer), Singapore (Indie Entertainment) and the Middle East (Falcon).

Mexico City-based Canana Films, which produced Mexican director Jorge Michel Grau’s original version Somo Lo Que Hay, is “extremely happy” with the remake and has also picked up the title.

V/H/S 2, has sold to Germany (Ledick Filmhandel), Scandinavia (Mis.Label), Greece (Seven Films), Japan (Klockworks), Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia (Delta Pictures) and as previously reported to Australia (Village Roadshow); Russia (Big Movie); Middle East (Falcon); Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay and Colombia (Energia Entusiasta); Singapore (Yellow Brick); and India (Pictureworks).

Magnolia is releasing the picture in the US.