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Quendrith Johnson

Quendrith Johnson is Los Angeles Correspondent covering everything happening in film in Hollywood... Well, the most interesting things, anyway.
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NEON on fire with new Céline Sciamma project PETITE MAMAN

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent


When filmmaker Céline Sciamma made PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE, there was a use of silence or negative space, in the picture not seen since the French New Wave. That's just my critical opinion. That said, Sciamma’s work can also frighten and shake up audiences, critical viewers, and some would say, even voting members. You want to read that with a wink, because who knows what lurks in the hearts of Member Voters, to paraphrase the Shadow, a radio superhero once portrayed by Orson Welles, the first rulebreaker in the movies.


Now this daring lenser has a new project coming in collaboration with NEON. They are the company that had the courage to team up for the 2019 firebrand epic which saw Céline Sciamma crash onto the shores of Award Season past. Read the official news about her latest outing, which promises to be something to watch. 


Céline Sciamma Strikes Again, Matched with NEON


New York, NY: NEON will reunite with acclaimed filmmaker Céline Sciamma on Petite Maman following their successful collaboration on the revered Portrait of a Lady on Fire. NEON has acquired North American rights to the film, written and directed by Sciamma.  Petite Maman, which just had its World Premiere in competition at the Berlinale, stars sisters Joséphine Sanz and Gabrielle Sanz, with Nina Meurisse, Stéphane Varupenne and Margot Abascal. The drama is produced by Bénédicte Couvreur  of Lilies Films and shot by seasoned cinematographer Claire Mathon, Sciamma's frequent collaborators.


Nelly, age eight, has just lost her beloved grandmother and is helping her parents clean out her mother’s childhood home. She explores the house and the surrounding woods where her mom, Marion, used to play and built the treehouse she’s heard so much about.  One day her mother abruptly leaves.  That’s when Nelly meets a girl her own age in the woods building a treehouse. Her name is Marion. 


Jeff Deutchman negotiated the deal for NEON with Fionnuala Jamison of mk2, who are handling international sales.


Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire premiered in competition at Cannes, winning Best Screenplay, and rose to critical acclaim, earning BAFTA, Golden Globes® and Independent Spirit Awards nominations, and winning numerous awards including the César Award for Best Cinematography and European Film Award for Best European Screenwriter.  Before that, Sciamma’s Girlhood screened in the Quinzaine des réalisateurs at Cannes and won numerous international awards; and Tomboy, opened the 2011 Panorama and won the Teddy Award. Her debut feature film, Water Lilies, also premiered at Cannes in 2007.


Recap: The Berlinale Competition Selection follows their successful collaboration on the revered “Portrait of a Lady on Fire”



In just four years, NEON has garnered 12 Academy Award® nominations, 5 wins, including Best Picture, and has grossed over $150M at the box office. The company continues to push boundaries and take creative risks on bold cinema such as Bong Joon Ho’sParasite, which made history winning four Academy Awards®, becoming the first non-English-language film to claim Best Picture. The film, which also unanimously won the Palme d’Or at Cannes, has amassed over $53M at the domestic box office and broke multiple records including highest per screen average of the year and highest per screen average for a foreign language film of all time. NEON has amassed a library of over 50 films with noteworthy releases including: Tamara Kotevska and Ljubo Stefanov’s award-winning and record-breaking Honeyland, which is the first non-fiction feature to land Academy Award® nominations for Best Documentary and Best International Feature Film in the same year; Todd Douglas Miller’s Apollo 11, 2019's highest grossing documentary with a worldwide gross of $16M; Tim Wardle's Three Identical Strangers, winner of the Sundance Special Jury Award for Storytelling which surpassed $13M at the box office; and Craig Gillespie’s I, Tonya, which garnered multiple Academy Award® nominations, one win for Allison Janney and amassed over $30M in domestic box office.


The company has several projects in various stages of development and production, including Pablo Larraín’sSpencer starring Kristen Stewart; Ben Wheatley's Horror Film In The Earth which recently made its World Premiere at the Sundance Film Festival; and The Painter and the Thief narrative remake.  NEON continues to be an impressive force, with recent acquisitions such as:  Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s Flee, executive produced by Riz Ahmed and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau; Jamila Wignot’s Ailey; R.J. Cutler’s Billie Eilish: The World’s A Little Blurry; Venice's Grand Jury Prize Winner Michel Franco's New Order; Gundadirected by Victor Kossakovsky and executive produced by Joaquin Phoenix; Pig, starring Nicolas Cage; Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Memoria withTilda Swinton; and Robert Machoian’s powerful thrillerThe Killing of Two Lovers.  Recent releases include:Night of the Kings, Philippe Lacôte’s Ivory Coast Oscar Submission; Andrei Konchalovsky’s Dear Comrades!,Russia’s Academy Award Submission; Apollo 11: Quarantine, the new short film from director/producer Todd Douglas Miller;  Francis Lee’s romantic dramaAmmonite starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan; Alex’s Gibney’s documentary Totally Under Control; Brandon Cronenberg’s Possessor; Justin Simien’s Bad Hair; Max Barbakow’s sought after Palm Springsstarring Andy Samberg, which NEON acquired with Hulu; Amy Seimetz’s SXSW critical sensation She Dies Tomorrow; Josephine Decker’s Shirley starring Elisabeth Moss; Matt Wolf’s highly acclaimed Sundance documentary Spaceship Earth; The Painter and the Thief directed by Benjamin Ree; and the critically acclaimed Cannes hit Portrait of a Lady on Fire, which was nominated for Best Foreign Film at the Golden Globes® and Independent Spirit Awards.


After their successful collaboration on I, Tonya in January 2018, 30WEST (Dan Friedkin's and Micah Green's strategic venture) partnered with NEON's Tom Quinn (Founder & CEO) and Tim League (Co-Founder) to become majority investors in the company.


mk2 films

Every year, mk2 Films coproduces, sells and distributes a dozen new films by established or promising directors such as Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Atlantics, Cold War and Ash is Purest White. mk2 Films distributes a unique library of 800 films in France and around the world, including both fictions and documentaries. A rich collection which includes films from Charles Chaplin – celebrating the 100th Anniversary of The Kid this year, François Truffaut, Abbas Kiarostami, Agnès Varda, Jacques Demy, Claude Chabrol, Alain Resnais, Krzysztof Kieślowski, David Lynch, Michael Haneke, Gus Van Sant, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Olivier Assayas - to name but a few... The whole film collection also counts some of the major films of the history of cinema and a large number of classic films restored in 2K and 4K: from the very pioneers of the industry, such as D.W. Griffith and Alice Guy-Blaché, to Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy, Buster Keaton and up to today’s most acclaimed directors such as Jia Zhang-Ke, Joachim Trier, Céline Sciamma, Xavier Dolan and Mati Diop.


At the 2021 Berlin EFM, mk2 films’ lineup also notably include Joachim Trier’s The Worst Person In The World, Jonas Carpignano’s A Chiara, and Fernando León de Aranoa’s The Good Boss, starring Javier Bardem.


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About Quendrith Johnson

Johnson Quendrith

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