By Holly Jones
France-U.K. sales-production-distribution house Alief (“Matadero”) has closed U.K. and Irish theatrical sales for Tallinn Black Nights Grand Prix winner “Driving Mum, with Newcastle upon Tyne-based exhibition and distribution outfit Tull Stories (“A Clever Woman”) ahead of its bow in at the Glasgow Festival on Monday.
Warsaw-based Aurora Films (“I Love My Dad”) has simultaneously snapped up Polish theatrical rights.
“We could not be happier to have found the perfect match for ‘Driving Mum’ in the U.K and Ireland, key markets in our company’s DNA. What a joyful day, I’ll finally be able to take my mother to one of our movies in London,” Brett Walker, president of Alief, told Variety.
Directed by Reykjavík helmer Hilmar Oddsson (“December”), the film, which recently secured a German-language and Swiss rights deal with Prokino, is a resounding ode to isolation and discovery that embarks on a journey lending focus to aimless protagonist Jon’s (Þröstur Leó Gunnarsson) coming of ripe age while grappling with immeasurable grief.
“Brett and myself are over the moon with Tull Stories’ passion for our irreverent Icelandic fantastic dramedy and their crystal clear marketing vision starting with a full-fledged theatrical release in key cities. That’s literally Hilmar’s & Hlinn’s wish delivered on time, right before our U.K. premiere this Monday at the Glasgow Film Fest,” remarked Miguel Angel Govea, a partner at Alief.
Tull Stories was founded by Jonny Tull, with now 25 years of distribution, programming and marketing expertise in the cinema, heritage and arts & culture sector; Aurora Films specialises in arthouse distribution.
“We work in cinema exhibition as much as we do in distribution, so the cinema experience is vital to us,” stated Tull, adding that Tull Stories will release “Driving Mum” with a full theatrical window in key cities across the U.K. and Ireland later in 2023.
“We know that its universal themes, bone-dry wit and glorious Icelandic setting will be attractive to audiences, so we’ll also be looking to team up with broadcast and streaming partners to ensure that ‘Driving Mum’ continues its journey well after its cinema release,” Tull added.
Aurora Films’ Michal Myslinski further mused, “I’m glad we have this deal. Personally, I like this movie very much, even if it’s not an obvious crowd-pleaser.”
The Icelandic-Estonian production from Hlin Johannesdottir (“The Swan”), founder of Iceland’s Ursus Parvus, is a highly relatable and enveloping story, tackling themes of isolation, self-reflection and interpersonal relationships with a quick and biting humour that sets it just off the well-forged path of a traditional road trip film.
With Iceland distribution secured in conjunction with Samfilm, Alief has previously locked with Film Europe (“Close”) for the Czech Republic and Slovakia and Film Stop for Estonia.
After its Glasgow run, the project is set for a North American premiere at the Cleveland International Film Festival in March, an Italian bow at the Bari Film Fest and Asian debut in Taipei.
“From the moment we watched ‘Driving Mum’ we were beguiled,” Tull stated. “Cinemagoers now, more than ever, want to be taken on meaningful journeys and have a great time whilst they’re on them. Hilma Oddsson’s beautiful Icelandic award-winning odyssey does just that through its blend of perfectly pitched rich, dark humour and playful melancholy.”