Locarno: Charades Acquires Competition Contender ‘Maternal’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Having seen large success with Cannes Critics’ Week and Annecy Cristal winner “I Lost My Body,” Paris-based Charades has confirmed its acquisition of international sales rights to “Maternal” (“Hogar”), written and directed by Italy’s Maura Delpero.

The awaited fiction feature debut of Delpero, a documentary filmmaker whose won a Donatello Award nomination for dock-feature “Nadja e Sveta,” “Maternal” will world premiere in main international competition at this year’s Locarno Festival, whose lineup was announced this Wednesday morning.

Memento Films Distribution, whose more recent releases include “Une Intime Conviction” and “Everybody Knows,” will handle “Maternal’s” distribution in France.

A second Charades sales title, already announced,“The Girl with a Bracelet,” will also world premiere at Locarno, this time in its  Piazza Grande strand, which highlights potential audience-friendly movies and crossover fare.

Already scooping multiple awards at top development programs, such as the Arte International Prize, adjudicated by Arte France Cinema, at San Sebastian’s 2016 Co-Production Forum, “Maternal” begins with Sister Paola arriving from Italy to take her final vows at “Hogar,” a convent for single teen mothers in Buenos Aires.

She begins to experience a maternal instinct caring for Nina, a little girl, after her flighty mother Lu takes off to live with her boyfriend. Sister Paola cannot repress her joy at a sense of maternity, nor Lu her sexual longing. The center is only really a satisfactory home to a third young woman, Fatima, who, coming from a violent hime where she may well have been raped by her mother’s boyfriend, gives birth to her second child there.

A portrait of various forms of female desire, Delpero has said, “Maternal” questions both religious vocation and maternal instincts, the latter acquiring additional weight in Argentina where abortion remains illegal, apart from in exceptional cases.

“Maternal” is produced by by Nicolas Avruj and Diego Lerman’s Buenos Aires-based Campo Cine, producer of all Lerman’s movies (“Sheltered,” “A Kind of Family”), Italy’s Vivo Film, headed by Marta Donzelli, producer of “Nico 1988” and Abel Ferrara’s “Siberia,” and a second Italian partner, Alessandro Amatto’s Dispàrte. Rai Cinema, the movie investment arm of the Italian public broadcaster, co-produces.

Charades pre-bought “Maternal” when it was in post-production, said co-founder-partner Carole Baraton.

“We were all mesmerized by Maura’s subtle, authentic and genuine look at these women, her take on the issues of maternity and solidarity and how she managed to address the abortion-rights battle in Argentina without mentioning it,” said Charades’ Jean-Felix Dealberto, Charades sales co-ordinator and marketing head, noting that “Maternal” is Charades’ first Italian film.

Jean Labadie’s Le Pacte will distribute in France “A Girl with a Bracelet,” whose choice for the Piazza Grande setting seems highly appropriate. The second full feature by director-producer Stéphane Demoustier, who made his debut in 2014 with “40-Love,” which he followed up with a medium-feature, 2018’s “Cléo & Paul,” which bowed in Berlin Generation 14plus, winning a special mention –   “Girl,” like “40 Love,” melds a strong narrative thrust, high-profile stars, a prestige producer, and a reflection on contemporary parent-children relations, here most especially the generational gulf in sex and social media.

Described by Charades as a psychological mystery drama and coming of age story, “A Girl with a Bracelet” kicks off with 16-year-old Lise, played by newcomer Melissa Guers, being brought in for questioning over the murder of her best friend. She hardly reacts to the news.

Cut to two years later where she stands trial for the crime, begins to confess to a secret life whose sexual details she kept from her parents, while past actions – her death threats against her best friend after a sexting episode – suggest her guilt.

“I felt that they were talking about someone I didn’t know,” the father confesses at one moment, about the trial.

“40-Love” starred Olivier Gourmet, male lead in multiple Dardenne brothers films. In “A Girl with a Bracelet,” Roschdy Zem (“Chocolat,” “Days of Glory”) plays Lise’s protective father, Chiara Mastroianni (“Claire Darling,” “Making Plans for Lena”) her mother, who can’t bear a sense of helplessness at the judicial proceedings.

“The Girl with a Bracelet” is not only a gripping  procedural but, in a second layer, says a lot about coming of age, while becoming a stranger to your family and surroundings,’ said Baraton.

The film is produced by Jean des Fôrets’ Petit Film (“Raw”) and Belgium’s Frakas Productions (“Girl,” “Raw”).

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