Heretic Outreach, the sales arm of Greek boutique production company Heretic Films, and the Bureau Sales, the overseas licensing arm of London- and Paris-based production houses The Bureau/Le Bureau, are repping international sales rights in Cannes for “Pari,” by writer-director Siamak Etemadi.
The feature debut of the Iranian-born Etemadi, who lives in Greece, “Pari” is the story of an Iranian couple who arrive in Athens to visit their rebellious son, only to discover that he’s gone missing. When circumstances force the boy’s mother, Pari (played by Iranian-born German thesp Melika Foroutan, pictured), to return to Iran, she decides to continue the search on her own, traveling into the darkest corners of an alien city to find the missing student.
“It’s a film of great emotional suspense and tension,” says Heretic’s Konstantinos Kontovrakis. “It’s a search…for a missing person that gradually becomes the story of a woman searching for herself and her own freedom.”
Unspooling at a time when the refugee crisis in Europe has raised hard questions about human migration, borders, and national identity, Kontovrakis describes it as “a very relevant story.”
“It is, by nature, a very international project,” he adds. “It’s an Iranian story, set in Greece, speaking three different languages, and [telling] a story that could take place anywhere else in a European metropolis.”
Those elements convinced the producers that “Pari” “would stand very well internationally,” says Kontovrakis, adding that “this allowed us…to draw a lot of international financing to the project.”
“Pari” is produced by Heretic Films, France’s Le Bureau, the Netherlands’ Topkapi, and Bulgaria’s Chouchkov Brothers, which last partnered with Heretic on 2017 Tribeca award-winner “Son of Sofia.” The film was supported by MEDIA, the Greek Film Center, Greek pubcaster ERT, France’s CNC, Nederlands Filmfonds, the Bulgarian National Film Center, and Eurimages.
“For a big first feature, it was an ambitious project, and I think these elements…allowed us to pull it off,” says Kontovrakis, noting that the partnership with Bureau Sales was a perfect match for two production houses that both boast their own sales arms.
“As producers and sales agents, we can maximize the output of the film,” he says. “Our drive and ambition as producers would only be beneficial for the film.”
Producer Giorgos Karnavas points to the film’s “strong development career,” including the CNC Development Award at Sarajevo’s CineLink Co-Production Market, and its selection for Cinefondation’s Atelier, the Cannes Film Festival’s forum for films seeking completion funding.
“It’s this kind of project that’s out there very early on,” he says. “There’s an anticipation for it.”
Principal photography for “Pari” wrapped in Athens in April. Pic is in post-production with an eye toward a 2019 release.