Wild Bunch will handle international sales on Bahman Ghobadi’s No One Knows About Persian Cats.
The company has already signed a deal with Mars Films for France after a packed screening in Paris last week, which drew fervent interest from some of the country’s biggest distributors.
The film is a docu-fiction portrait of the underground music scene in contemporary Iran. It follows the attempts of two young musicians to form a rock band after being released from prison. Forbidden by the authorities to play in Iran, and dreaming of performing in Europe, they plan their escape. Persian Cats will open the Un Certain Regard sidebar.
The film was co-written by Ghobadi’s girlfriend, Roxana Saberi, who is currently in a Tehran prison having recently been sentenced to eight years on a charge of spying for the US government.
On Monday afternoon it was reported that Saberi would be freed after an appeals court reduced her eight-year sentence to a two-year suspended sentence. Screen has learned that Saberi will be given a 48 hour pass to accompany Ghobadi to Cannes this week for the Persian Cats screening on Thursday.
Saberi is an Iranian-American journalist who has worked in Iran for NPR, the BBC and other outlets. On April 18, she was convicted of espionage after a one-day, closed-door trial.
Before she was freed, a distraught Ghobadi told ScreenDaily that he would not make the trip to Cannes without Saberi. He said he was hoping something would change in the next few days but he added, “I don’t want to leave my apartment if she can’t leave. I’m thinking about my life: What does Cannes mean? What does my film mean? What does art mean? This is my problem. I cry about my girlfriend every night.”
Ghobadi appears to be pinning his hopes on Persian Cats, however, if at least it helps get him out of Iran. “I want to move to Europe… On all of my films I never got any money back. We have to think about artists in Iran.”
Persian Cats is a hot title and several companies were vying for the film and although it was originally announced that it would be handled by France’s Memento for international sales, Ghobadi ultimately opted for Wild Bunch.