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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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We still heart Spike Lee & NEON nabs Jonas Carpignano

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

Never mind the recent Spike Lee leak that named “Titane” as a winner as NEON took their second Palme d’Or in a row, just off the heels of Parasite, with Julia Ducournau’s new film. NEON also announced that it has taken North American rights to Jonas Carpignano’s festival favorite A Chiara...

CANNES FRANCE: NEON just announced that it has taken North American rights to Jonas Carpignano’s festival sensation A Chiarawhich won the Europa Cinemas Label as Best European film in the Directors’ Fortnight section at Cannes.  The film marks the second time Carpignano takes the award, after previously winning for 2017’s A Ciambra, the second film in his Calabrian Trilogy.  Written by Carpignano, the dramastars Carmela Fumo, Claudio Rotolo and Swamy Rotolo. Photography is by Tim Curtin, sound by Giuseppe Tripodi, production design by Marco Ascanio Viarigi, editing by Affonso Goncalves and music by Academy-Award® nominated director Benh Zeitlin and Dan Romer.

A Chiara follows the Guerrasio family and friends who gather to celebrate Claudio and Carmela’s oldest daughter’s 18th birthday. There is a healthy rivalry between the birthday girl and her 15-year-old sister Chiara as they compete on the dance floor. It is a happy occasion, and the close-knit family are in top form. However, everything changes the next day when the father disappears. Chiara starts to investigate. As she gets closer to the truth, she is forced to decide what kind of future she wants for herself.

The Europa Cinema Label jury remarked that the film “reflects a genre that has been extensively covered in cinema but this time from a new perspective. This story […] is brilliantly structured and built. The casting of non-professionals in all of the roles works extremely well, and the imaginative sound design makes a big contribution to the appeal of the film.”

Jeff Deutchman and Mason Speta negotiated the deal for NEON with Fionnuala Jamison from mk2 Films. A Chiara is a Stayblack and Haut et Court production. Producers are Jon Coplon, Paolo Carpignano, and Ryan Zacarias.

Carpignano’s A Ciambra, which was Executive Produced by Martin Scorsese and Emma Tillinger Koskoff, was Italy’s Official Entry to the 2018 Academy Awards®.  His first feature film Mediterranea earned him the Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award at the Gotham Independent Film Awards, was named the best directorial debut of 2015 by the National Board of Review and received Independent Spirit Award nominations for Best First Feature, Best First Screenplay, and Best Male Lead.

The company also premiered Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Memoria starring Tilda Swinton, which tied for the Jury Prize, and the anthology feature The Year of the Everlasting Storm.  On Friday NEON acquired the breakout instant classic The Worst Person in The World fromNorwegian writer-director Joachim Trierwhich took the Best Actress Award for Renate Reinsve. 

The company’s upcoming slate includes Pablo Larrain’s Spencer, Jamila Wignot’s Ailey, Céline Sciamma’s Petite Maman, and Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s Flee, executive produced by Riz Ahmed and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.

Here’s NEON

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’s Parasite, 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. 

The company has several projects in various stages of development and production, including Pablo Larraín’s Spencer 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 Thiefnarrative remake.  NEON continues to be an impressive force, with recent acquisitions such as: Céline Sciamma’s Petite Maman; 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; Gunda directed by Victor Kossakovsky and executive produced by Joaquin Phoenix; and Robert Machoian’s powerful thriller The 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 drama Ammonite 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 Springs starring 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.

This news broke today from the Cannes International Film Festival, which ran from July 6 to July 17, 2021.

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