Ena Sendijarević’s “Sweet Dreams,” Netherlands’ submission in the Academy Awards international feature category, has secured North American distribution via Dekanalog.
The film had its world premiere at Locarno, where it won the Pardo for best performance for Renée Soutendijk (“Suspiria”) and the second prize of the junior jury. The film debuted in North America in Toronto’s Centrepiece section and won the Silver Hugo new directors award at Chicago. It opened the Nederlands Film Festival, where it won another six awards, including best film, best director and best leading role.
Set on a remote Indonesian island, “Sweet Dreams” explores the final days of European colonialism. It follows Dutch sugar plantation owner Jan and his wife Agathe, who are at the top of the food chain. Jan, upon returning from his nightly visit to his native concubine Siti, suddenly drops dead in front of his wife. Desperate to keep the privileges of her status quo, Agathe forces her estranged son Cornelis and his heavily pregnant wife Josefien, to travel from Europe and take over the family business. In the midst of a worker’s uprising, Cornelis displays his plans for progressive change. But when Jan’s will puts Siti at the forefront of the family estate, ideals prove to be idle and blood thicker than water.
Reviewing the film for Variety, critic Jessica Kiang wrote: “The director has developed a striking visual style, using formalist, pictorialist framing and symmetry to suggest the desperate asymmetries of colonial power, in a manner that recalls Lucrecia Martel’s ‘Zama’ or more recently, Felipe Gálvez Haberle’s ‘The Settlers.’”
“Sweet Dreams” is produced by Erik Glijnis and Leontine Petit of Lemming Film (Netherlands) in co-production with Erik Hemmendorff of Plattform Produktion (Sweden), Kristina Börjeson (Film I Vast, Sweden), Martien Vlietman (VPRO, Netherlands) and Mandy Marahimin (Tala Media, Indonesia). Judy Tossell, Laurent Medea and Sendijarević are executive producers.
Gusto Entertainment is releasing the film in Benelux and Plattform Distribution in Sweden along with Warner Bros. Discovery in the Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Moldova, Albania, Bulgaria and the Adriatic countries.
Dekanalog, founded in 2020 by Elijah Drenner, Lysa Le, and George Schmalz, is a film and soundtrack distribution company dedicated to the release of unique filmmaking voices and musical scores from around the world.
Sendijarević’s’s feature debut “Take Me Somewhere Nice” won awards at Rotterdam and Sarajevo.
Lysa Le of Dekanalog said: “We have long been admirers of Ena’s work, and are thrilled to work with her again for the release of ‘Sweet Dreams’ – the next step in her cinematic evolution.”
The film is represented by Athens-based sales outfit Heretic. Ioanna Stais, head of sales and acquisitions at Heretic, said: “Ena’s thematic perspective, energetic approach and unique satirical streak makes us feel confident that ‘Sweet Dreams’ is bound to resonate for a long time, touching on themes always relevant in public discourse. We’re tremendously excited to be sharing it with North American audiences.”
Erik Glijnis of Lemming Film added: “Following an incredibly rewarding Dutch theatrical run amidst its Oscar campaign, we’re thrilled to partner up with Dekanalog and that ‘Sweet Dreams’ will find its audience in theatres across the United States.”
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