Hussain Amarshi is moving into the international sales business and heads to Cannes with an expanded Canadian company and his first sales title.

Mongrel International will focus on pedigree Canadian and world cinema titles and the first on the roster is Canada-Ireland co-production Maudie to star Sally Hawkins.

“We have specialised in bringing carefully curated, culturally relevant, story-driven and beautifully crafted films to Canadian audiences,” said Mongrel president and founder Hussain Amarshi, who will announce hires shortly. “And with Mongrel International, we plan to do that same for the world market.”

Aisling Walsh is scheduled to start shooting Maudie in July in Newfoundland, Canada, where the producers believe they will capture the look of Nova Scotia in the 1950s and 1960s era of the film.

Mongrel holds Canadian rights to the true story of a romance between a curmudgeonly recluse and the fragile yet determined eponymous character, whose crippled hands do not stop her from creating her beloved art and going on to become a celebrated folk artist.

Canada’s Sherry White wrote the screenplay and Maudie Bob Cooper of Los Angeles-based Landscape produces with Mary Young Leckie of Toronto-based Solo Productions and Susan Mullen from Dublin’s Parallel. 

Executive producers include Heather Haldane of Toronto-based H-Is4 Productions, Mary Sexton of Newfoundland-based Rink Rat Productions, Landscape’s Tyler Mitchell, and Parallel’s Alan Moloney and Johanna Hogan.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to play such an extraordinary and inspiring artist,” said Hawkins. “It is a beautiful script. I have been desperate to work with Aisling Walsh again since Fingersmith. She is quite brilliant and perfect to bring Maudie’s story to life. It makes it a very special project for me. Maudie’s story is a remarkable one and to be asked to step into her shoes is such a gift.”

“I think this is a very special project for me, because not only is the material and talent so compelling, but it’s a chance for me to return home after many years,” said Cooper.