Berlin-based sales company M-Appeal will be handling eight films by Academy Award winner Hamaguchi Ryûsuke made between 2008-2016.
The deal follows M-Appeal’s previous collaboration with Hamaguchi and producer Takata Satoshi, of NEOPA Inc., in 2021 on the film “Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy,” which premiered in Berlinale Competition and won the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize. “Drive My Car” by Hamaguchi screened in Cannes Competition the same year, before winning Best International Feature Film at the Academy Awards.
The deal includes “Passion,” Hamaguchi’s 2008 graduation film for the School of Film & New Media at Tokyo University of the Arts, as well as “Happy Hour,” which world premiered in Locarno in 2015. “Happy Hour” won the Best Actress Award in Locarno, shared between the four lead actresses of the film, all of whom had no previous acting experience, as well as receiving a special mention for the film’s script. Other titles in the deal are “Heaven Is Still Far Away” (2016), “Touching the Skin of Eeriness” (2013), “Intimacies” (2012), “The Depths” (2010), “I Love Thee for Good” (2009), and “Like Nothing Happened” (2003); all titles are available for retrospectives and repertory screenings.
Across these early films, Hamaguchi developed his formal cinematic language and demonstrated his dedication to themes that re-appear in his recent, critically acclaimed and award-winning films; the inner emotional worlds of characters, unspoken bonds, and the connection between reality and role-play.
M-Appeal has struck a deal with Film Movement for the distribution rights of “Passion” in North America. Michael E. Rosenberg, president of Film Movement, commented: “Even in this early film one can discover Hamaguchi’s tremendous skills as both screenwriter and director, including his ability to work so wonderfully well with actors (including several who later were featured in ‘Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy’). It’s not a surprise that the San Sebastian Film Festival premiered the film originally, with their track record for discovering auteurs. ‘Passion’ will be a treat for fans of ‘Asako I & II,’ ‘Happy Hour’ and of course ‘Drive My Car.’”
A second deal for “Passion” has been closed with Andrews Film in Taiwan. Mike Chuanchen Chang, managing director of Andrews Film, said: “‘Passion’ is a very touching film, which reminds us of Edward Yang’s style, and we know it will be appreciated by Taiwanese cinema lovers. ‘Passion’ introduces Hamaguchi’s distinctive filmmaking, the paths he has taken on the way to becoming a cinema master, and we are very happy to distribute this film alongside ‘Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy’ and ‘Drive my Car.’”
M-Appeal previously sold “Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy” to both Film Movement and Andrews Film in 2021.
Maren Kroymann, managing director of M-Appeal, added: “As Hamaguchi becomes increasingly known and loved by audiences worldwide, we see a real interest and curiosity for his earlier works alongside the great acclaim for his recent films. We are honored to be representing these library titles, as well as ‘Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy,’ from such a distinctive director. As we celebrate 15 years of M-Appeal this year, we are excited about expanding our close collaborations with auteurs.”