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Dardenne Brothers’ Cannes Winner ‘Young Ahmed’ Nabbed for U.S. by Kino Lorber (EXCLUSIVE)

Elsa Keslassy

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Young Ahmed,” which won the best director prize at Cannes for Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, has been acquired for the U.S. by Kino Lorber. The film will have its North American premiere at COLCOA and will go on to play at New York Film Festival.

Set in a small town, “Young Ahmed” follows a Belgian Muslim teenager named Ahmed (played by newcomer Idir Ben Addi) who lives with his secular single mother and siblings, and falls under the influence of a magnetic extremist imam. Ahmed is radicalized and becomes fixated on killing his female teacher in the name of his religious convictions.

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“We are proud to present to U.S. audiences the latest masterwork from Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne,” said Kino Lorber senior vice president Wendy Lidell, who negotiated the deal with Eva Diederix, head of international sales of Wild Bunch and CAA Media Finance. “Like all their great films, ‘Young Ahmed’ portrays with great empathy a character grappling with a moral dilemma, and does so by telling an engrossing story bursting with suspense.”

Kino Lorber will distribute “Young Ahmed” in U.S. theaters in early 2020, followed by releases on VOD and home video.

Wild Bunch said that, after its “successful collaborations with Kino Lorber on releasing Godard’s ‘Goodbye to Language’ and many other films,” it looked forward to “reconnecting with Kino Lorber, which shares our love for master directors such as the Dardenne Brothers.”

The movie earned a warm critical reception at Cannes, including by Variety, whose review said that “there’s a darkness to ‘Young Ahmed’ that audiences have never seen before in the work of Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, the gifted Belgian brothers whose profoundly humane, unapologetically realist dramas have twice earned them the Palme d’Or in Cannes.”

Besides “Young Ahmed,” Kino Lorber will roll into the New York Film Festival with Kantemir Balagov’s “Beanpole,” which won best director at Cannes’ Un Certain Regard; Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles’s Cannes Jury prize-winning “Bacurau”; Nadav Lapid’s Berlin Golden Bear-winning “Synonyms”; and Pietro Marcello’s “Martin Eden,” which just won Toronto’s Platform award.

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