In my final article from Cannes, I reported that IFC had acquired United States distribution rights to Israeli writer-director Ari Folman's animated film "Waltz With Bashir," and that Sony Pictures Classics hadn't bought anything at the festival. Nope on both counts. I believed both things were true at the time -- but, you know, I'm supposed to hew to a higher standard than what I kinda, sorta think might be happening. In fact, while IFC had expressed interest in "Bashir," SPC has since scooped it up as part of a last-minute buying spree that included U.S. rights to the Dardenne brothers' "Lorna's Silence," Norwegian director Bent Hamer's much-praised "O'Horten" (a Certain Regard title I didn't see) and James Toback's arresting documentary "Tyson."
So suddenly a festival where it looked as if American buyers were sitting on their wallets now looks totally different. What art-film recession? I never said that! Meanwhile, IFC may have lost out on "Waltz With Bashir," but it just acquired U.S. rights to Matteo Garrone's terrific Neapolitan Mafia drama "Gomorrah," adding that to a slate of Cannes pickups that already includes Arnaud Desplechin's "Christmas Tale," Josh Safdie's "The Pleasure of Being Robbed," Steve McQueen's "Hunger," Korean director Na Hong-jin's serial-killer thriller "The Chaser" and Olivier Assayas' "Summer Hours" (which was for sale in the Cannes market, but not shown in the festival).
It remains true that Miramax, Weinstein, Fox Searchlight, Paramount Vantage, Magnolia Pictures and other, smaller U.S. indie distributors stayed on the sidelines at Cannes, but then again there are several big apples waiting to fall from the tree. No U.S. buyers have emerged yet for Steven Soderbergh's two-part "Che," James Gray's "Two Lovers" or Charlie Kaufman's "Synecdoche, New York," but you've got to think all those companies are in the running, trying to stare each other down without launching a bidding war. Reports suggest that Magnolia may end up distributing Barry Levinson's Hollywood farce "What Just Happened?", something of a bust at Sundance but the closing-night film at Cannes. New Yorker Films is said to be close to a U.S. deal for Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan's "Three Monkeys," a haunting but glacially-paced picture in a Bergman-Tarkovsky vein that's suited to very limited release.