Hot on the tail of a recent slew of pickups and sales, Paris-based sales-producer-distributor Alief has snapped up international rights to the West African folktale “Mami Wata.”
North America rights to the film are represented by Marissa Frobes at CAA Media Finance. Alief is presenting the film to buyers and festival programmers at this week’s European Film Market in Berlin.
The first film from a Nigerian-based director to play (and win an award) at Sundance, this visually striking feature took home the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Cinematography for Brazilian DP Lílis Soares.
Nigerian director C.J. ‘Fiery’ Obasi’s film tells the story of two sisters who fight to save their people and restore to the land a water deity. According to West African folklore, ‘Mami Wata’ is a terrifying mermaid goddess.
This black-and-white film is set in a beach town where a community must question previously held beliefs when a stranger washes to shore. The director has said in an interview that he wants to explore ancient beliefs and create a new African cinema at one and the same time. “Mama Wata” is his third feature film.
Seven years in the making, the film was selected to participate in the Final Cut at the 78th Venice Festival. “Mami Wata” will be the closing night film at MoMi First Look 2023.
Miguel Angel Govea, a partner at Alief, said: ”We are over the moon about ‘Mami Wata,’ our favorite adventure fantasy film of Sundance 2023. C.J. has concocted a mesmerizing and enthralling folk tale where all expectations are upended by cleverly grounding the film in magic realism.”
Alief President Brett Walker added: ”We are excited to hit the ground running at the European Film Market pitching this outstanding film to our genre buyers and programmers, whom we are quite sure will love it as much as we do.”