Securing the rights for UK and Ireland, Modern Films announces its partnership with the producers of Winners, this year's official UK entry for the Academy Awards, written and directed by Hassan Nazer.
Winners is a gem of a film, a little treasure that tells the story of a lost golden Oscar statuette and all the people whose lives it touches. For cinephiles, it's also a rediscovery of the common language that we share across the world and references to both Iranian cinema greats and international auteurs -- which turns this charming film into an entertaining cinematic treasure hunt.
Financed, pre and post produced in Scotland but shot entirely in Iran, Winners has already delighted audiences internationally and garnered much award recognition with the Audience Award at Edinburgh International Film Festival, Best UK Feature at Raindance Film Festival, in Competition at Dinard Festival of British Cinema and two BIFA nominations for Best Discovery and Breakthrough Producer (for Nadira Murray of Sylph Productions).
Filmmaker Hassan Nazer is a British-Iranian writer/director based in Aberdeen. His previous films include Black Day, Here Iran, Utopia, and The Check Post. Nazer arrived in Scotland as a refugee in 2000. After securing indefinite leave to remain in the UK, he went on to study film at the University of Aberdeen and within a few years, was self-funding his own films from his base in the city.
Winners is Nazer's first feature with support from the UK industry. A Jury Member at ALIIFF & SAARC Film Festivals and for BAFTA Scotland, although living permanently in the UK, Nazer is a member of the Iranian Producers Guild (FPUIC).
Screen Scotland are major financiers of Winners and also supporting the film's BAFTA and Oscar awards campaigns, to widen awareness around it and to contribute to conveying its message of the love of cinema and of fighting for freedom of expression -- through the storyline of elusive awards statuettes lost and found.
Producers Paul Welsh (Edge City Films) and Nadira Murray had this to say about the UK distribution news: "It's fantastic to be partnering with Eve [Gabereau of Modern Films] and the whole team at Modern Films. Their taste and enthusiasm for world cinema is unquestionable so this feels like a great home for our film in the UK. We look forward to everything this collaboration will bring."
Distributor Eve Gabereau added that she is "happy to be working collaboratively on this release to bring joy and reflection to local audiences, through a Scottish produced film that is entirely Iranian set while being wholly universal in spirit." She also mentioned that "it is great to be working with Paul Welsh again after so many years since our great experience on Skeletons, and with this film team who are both cineastes and mavericks."
Isabel Davies, Executive Director of Screen Scotland, commented that “audiences have responded very strongly to Winners at festivals in the UK and abroad, including the Audience Award at this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival; hence, we are delighted to see the film receive a proper commercial release and to have it selected as the official UK entry for the Academy Awards for Best International Feature consideration.”
Audience awards are always a great indicator of what the viewing public wants to watch on the big screen.
Modern Films is a London-based, female-led, social issues-driven film distribution and digital exhibition company. They launched in 2017 with the Event Cinema release of Manifesto starring Cate Blanchett and Executive Production on the BIFA and BAFTA-winning I Am Not a Witch by Rungano Nyoni. They now represent a library of over 100 films, including such acclaimed titles as Happy as Lazzaro by Alice Rohrwacher, Northern Irish story Wildfire by Cathy Brady, Paul Sng and Celeste Bell's documentary Poly Styrene: I Am a Cliché narrated by Ruth Negga and this year's history-making BAFTA and Oscar® winner Drive My Car by Ryusuke Hamaguchi.
The deal was negotiated directly between the producers and Modern Films and the film will be released in early 2023, with awards screenings happening in the UK and US now. Press is being handled by Premier.