Austria-based sales agent Square Eyes has boarded Thai director Sorayos Prapapan’s Arnold Is A Model Student, which received its world premiere in Locarno’s Filmmakers of the Present competition.
The Thai-language feature follows a gifted student who is enlisted by an underground ring to help others cheat on their exams. The cast is led by newcomer Korndanai Marc Dautzenberg in the title role and political commentator Winyu Wongsurawat.
The story is inspired by a student survival guide published by Bad Student, a movement that calls for educational reform in Thailand and protests abusive school regulations.
Square Eyes has taken worldwide rights, excluding territories which are reserved for the producers and co-producers. The film is a co-production between Thailand (Minimal Animal), the Netherlands (Volya Films, which also takes Benelux rights), France (Dibona Films), Singapore (Giraffe Pictures, which also takes China rights) and the Philippines (Cinematografica Films).
It marks the feature directorial debut of Sorayos and is produced by Donsaron Kovitvanitcha who previously worked with the filmmaker on shorts Fat Boy Never Slim and Death Of The Sound Man, which premiered at Venice in 2017.
Donsaron previously produced Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit’s Die Tomorrow, which played at the Berlinale, as well as The Blue Hour and Malila: The Farewell Flower, both by Anucha Boonyawatana. Last month, he was appointed festival director of the World Film Festival of Bangkok.
Parallax picks up ‘Stone Turtle’
Separately, Chinese sales agent Parallax Films has secured international sales rights to Malaysian director Woo Ming Jin’s Stone Turtle, which premieres in Locarno’s international competition.
The revenge thriller follows a stateless refugee who makes a living poaching turtle eggs on a remote island. Her search for justice begins when a researcher arrives and employs her to show him around. Indonesian actress Asmara Abigail and Malaysian actor Bront Palarae lead the cast.
Parallax Films has taken all rights, excluding Southeast Asia and Japan, which are handled by Woo’s Malaysian outfit Greenlight Pictures. Woo also takes the producer’s credit along with his long-time producer Edmund Yeo.
The project was partly financed by a Covid recovery fund from the Malaysian government. Yulia Evina Bhara of KawanKwan Media serves as the Indonesian co-producer.
Woo is a leading Malaysian New Wave filmmaker. His previous films have played in top festivals and include his feature debut Monday Morning Glory, which played the Forum strand of the Berlinale Forum; Woman On Fire Looks For Water, selected for Venice’s Horizons; and Tiger Factory, which played in Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes.
Arnold Is A Model Student director Sorayos previously worked as the sound recorder and designer for both Woo and Yeo (who is also a director) on their films, The Second Life Of Thieves and River Of Exploding Durians respectively.