Neon Buys Cannes Directors’ Fortnight Winner ‘A Chiara’ (EXCLUSIVE)

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Continuing its victory lap around the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, indie studio NEON has acquired the North American distribution rights to “A Chiara.”

The Jonas Carpignano film won the top prize in the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight section. It is a companion film to his 2017 “A Ciambra,” for which he took the same award that year. Critics raved about the film’s exploration of young female identity and Carpignano’s ability to create enduring interest in one fictional family across multiple films.

“A Chiara” follows Claudio and Carmela Guerrasio, who gather with family and friends to celebrate their eldest 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. A happy occasion shifts suddenly when the patriarch disappears. As Chiara investigates, she discovers truths about her family and must face decisions about the kind of life she wants to build.

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.”

Carpignano wrote the script. Carmela Fumo, Claudio Rotolo and Swamy Rotolo star. Tim Curtin served as director of photography, with sound by Giuseppe Tripodi, production design by Marco Ascanio Viarigi, editing by Affonso Goncalves, and music by Oscar nominee Benh Zeitlin and Dan Romer.

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.

“A Ciambra,” which was executive produced by Martin Scorsese and Emma Tillinger Koskoff, was Italy’s 2018 Academy Award entry. Carpignano’s first 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.

NEON set the Croisette on fire this year, taking the Palme d’Or for the second consecutive time for Julia Ducournau’s “Titane,” following their sensational “Parasite.” They premiered Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s “Memoria” starring Tilda Swinton, which tied for the Jury Prize, as well as the anthology feature “The Year of the Everlasting Storm.” On Friday, the studio acquired the instantly beloved “The Worst Person in The World” from Norwegian writer-director Joachim Trier, which took Cannes’ 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.

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