Rome-based Intramovies has picked up sales rights to Swedish up-and-coming filmmaker Mika Gustafson’s “Sisters,” ahead of the film’s pitch as a work in progress at Göteborg’s Nordic Film Market, which runs Feb. 2-5.
The film is being produced by Nima Yousefi for Stockholm-based Hobab, behind the multi-awarded “Clara Sola” by Nathalie Álvarez Mesen.
European co-producers on board “Sisters” take in Italy s’ Intramovies, Denmark’s Toolbox Film and Finland’s Tuffi Films.
Intramovies’ head of acquisitions and production Marco Valerio Fusco said “being the Italian co-producers, we loved the project since its inception, and were very excited by the film’s potential, the impressive script and all talents involved.
“For the good of the film, we didn’t put any pre-emption on the title, leaving the door open to any other possible sales agent. Then when Nima offered us to come on board, we immediately accepted,” said Fusco who is eager “to let the world discover Mika Gustafson, a stunning bright new talent.”
“Sisters” marks Gustafson’s first foray into fiction filmmaking after the doc music bio-pic “Silvana” for which she shared a Swedish Guldbagge for best documentary in 2018. The raw coming-of age title was inspired by the director’s own experience of growing up with her sister in an unsupervised home, and the bond, “stronger than everything else,” that developed between them.
The story, co-written with actor-scriptwriter Alexander Öhrstrand, turns on the siblings Laura (16), Mira (12) and Steffi (7), fending for themselves in a Swedish working-class suburban housing estate, as their mother vanishes for lengthy periods. When social services get in touch, Laura asks the young woman Hanna to play their mom, to avoid the sisters being placed in foster care and separated.
Gustafson, who studied filmmaking with “Triangle of Sadness”’ Ruben Östlund at Göteborg’s Valand film academy, said her movie is “about the transience of time and life, about memories and reconciliation. “I want to show what it’s like to be a human being in those moments when euphoric freedom lies cheek to cheek with total despair,” she explained.
Toplining the cast are the young amateurs Bianca Delbravo, Dilvin Asaad and Safira Mossberg as the three sisters and top actress Ida Engvoll (“Love & Anarchy”) as Hanna.
“Directing for me is to create life in the moments and making it so there are conditions that enable me to help the actors and to help one other, professionals and debutants alike,” said Gustafson about her craft. “Ida Engvoll is a friend and artist that was incredibly important for that process. Me and my screenwriter Alex, who is also an actor, trained the non-professionals in acting for almost a year before shooting.”
“Sisters” was shot last summer on location in Stockholm and is slated for a late spring delivery, around the Cannes Film Festival, a top launching pad where Hobab world premiered its buzzy Directors’ Fortnight title “Clara Sola” in 2021. TriArt will handle the theatrical release in Sweden, Scanbox in Denmark and Aurora Studios in Finland.
Yousefi said he is looking forward to Göteborg’s work in progress pitch “to attract interest from festival programmers, other distributors and TV channels.”
Hobab’s film slate takes in Álvarez Mesen’s sophomore feature “The Wolf Will Tear Your Immaculate Hands,” currently in pre-production, with the start of principal photography pencilled for mid-2024. “Our mission is to make a hub for the creatives, professionals and the people behind the artistic craft of filmmaking,” said Yousefi, a partner in the boutique Swedish production shingle with long-time producer Peter Krupenin.
Hobab will also attend the upcoming Berlinale Co-production Market with Iranian filmmaking duo Maryam Moghaddam and Behtash Sanaeeha’s project “Buran,” which is in the early stage of financing. It will be showcased in the Directors’ section.
The Swedish prodco is a minority partner in Moghaddam and Sanaeeha’s current film “My Favourite Cake,” produced by France’s Caractères Productions.