Drafthouse Films, the film distribution arm of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, and Films We Like announced today the co-acquisition of North American rights to sci-fi epic The Congress from this year's Cannes Film Festival in the "Directors' Fortnight" section. From Oscar-nominated director Ari Folman (Waltz with Bashir), the film stars Robin Wright (House of Cards, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Jon Hamm (AMC's Mad Men), Paul Giamatti (Sideways, John Dies at the End) and Harvey Keitel (Taxi Driver, Bad Lieutenant). A US theatrical and VOD/digital release is planned for 2014 and Films We Like in Toronto will handle Canadian distribution. US fans who enroll in the "Drafthouse Alliance" subscription program can guarantee pre-order of the film here: DrafthouseFilms.com/Alliance.
Based on legendary science fiction writer Stanislaw Lem's 1971 novel The Futurological Congress, Folman's adaptation blends live action and psychedelic animation as an aging, out-of-work actress (Wright in an unusual role playing an alternate reality version of herself) accepts her final job: preserving her digital image for a future Hollywood. 20 years later, Wright's digital double rises to immortal stardom and is invited to take part in The Congress as she makes her comeback straight into the world of future fantasy cinema.
Empire Magazine proclaims it "an extraordinary and very touching film that exists somewhere in the twilight zone between the existential brainteasers of Charlie Kaufman and the psychedelic wonders of Hayao Miyazaki." Highlighting the film's satirical look at modern Hollywood, Ben Kenisberg for RogerEbert.com adds "[The Congress] is lyrical and mysterious, contemplating age-old sci-fi questions (of artificial intelligence, of perception versus reality) while grafting them onto a commentary about the changing nature of movies."
Director Ari Folman released the following statement regarding the acquisition.
"I am extremely excited by the idea that an innovative and passionate company such as Drafthouse Films will be the American distributor for The Congress, and their immediate reaction towards the film felt like love at first sight. I am absolutely confident they will take the film to all those places it is meant to go."
Here's what Drafthouse Films CEO Tim League had to say about the project in a statement.
"The Congress cements Ari Folman's position as one of the most innovative and provocative filmmakers working today. It will be a joy to share his creative vision with American audiences."
Ron Mann of Films We Like also released the following statement.
"We are ecstatic to release The Congress in tandem with Drafthouse Films. It is a remarkable visionary film and we are honored to present it to audiences in Canada."
The Match Factory Managing Director Michael Weber released his own statement.
"We are delighted for our first collaboration with Drafthouse Films, to partner again with Films We Like, and are convinced that Michael Weber is in the best hands. They share our enthusiasm for this unique director's new film and will do a great job making it visible to the widest possible audience."
The deal was negotiated by Tim League and James Emanuel Shapiro on behalf of Drafthouse Films and Brigitte Suárez and Michael Weber of The Match Factory on behalf of the film's producers.
The Congress comes to theaters in 2014 and stars Robin Wright, Harvey Keitel, Jon Hamm, Paul Giamatti, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Danny Huston, Sami Gayle, Michael Stahl-David. The film is directed by Ari Folman.