EXCLUSIVE: Wild Bunch International has made an eleventh-hour addition to its European Film Market slate, signing international sales on Swedish Morbius director Daniel Espinosa’s upcoming drama Madame Luna.
Inspired by real-life events, the film follows an Eritrean refugee who gets stuck in Libya and becomes a notorious human trafficker known as “Mama Luna” with deep ties to the Italian Mafia.
When she is forced to flee to Italy due to a change in fortunes, she experiences the same hardships endured by the people she exploited.
Desperate to find a way out of the situation before she is recognized and brought to justice, she forms a bond with a younger version of herself.
The film was shot in Sicily and Calabria last August and September and is now in post-production.
WBI has teased a first image of newcomers Meninet Abraha and Hilyam Weldemichael, who are both of Eritrean origin, in the roles of Madame Luna and the younger woman respectively.
Further cast members include Claudia Potenza (Mountain) and Emanuele Vicorito (Gomorrah).
Based on a story by Binyam Berhane, the screenplay is written by Italian screenwriter Maurizio Braucci (Gomorrah, Pasolini and Martin Eden) and Palestinian writer and director Suha Arraf, who is best known internationally for her Ramallah-set drama Villa Touma.
The film follows Chilean-born Espinosa’s U.S. studio pictures Safe House, Life and Morbius and marks his first major independently backed film in more than a decade.
The Swedish-Italian co-production is lead produced by David Olivier Herdies (Dogborn, Transnistra, Amparo) at Stockholm-based Momento Film with Marco Alessi (Atlantide) and Massimiliano Navarra (The Tale Of King Crab) at Rome-based Dugong Films.
Created in 2011 by Herdies, leading Swedish indie Momento Film has made waves on the festival circuit in recent years with Anna Eborn’s 2018 doc Transnistra; Henrik S. Burman’s 2020 Swedish rap star portrait Yung Lean: In My Head and Colombian director Simon Mesa Soto’s Cannes Critics’ Week 2021 breakout Amparo.
The production has the backing of Greek ship owner and businessman Paris Kassidokostas-Latsis’s Luxembourg-based Hercules Film Fund.
Kassidokostas-Latsis is producing along with Terry Dougas. Rhea Films’s Jean-Luc de Fanti and Binyam Berhane are Executive Producers.
Launched by Kassidokostas-Latsis in 2015, Hercules and Los Angeles-Based Rhea Films have jointly financed and produced a slew of U.S. pictures over the last eight years including Doug Liman’s American Made, the Safdie Brothers’ Good Time, Paul Feig’s A Simple Favor, Brie Larson’s Unicorn, Grant Sputore’s I Am Mother and Halle Berry’s Bruised.
Further key backers are West Sweden’s regional fund Film I Vast and the Swedish Film Institute. The production was also supported by the Calabria Film Commission and Sicilia Film Commission.
WME handles U.S. sales.