[News] Utopia Acquires Provocative Berlinale Queer Thriller FEMME

[News] Utopia Acquires Provocative Berlinale Queer Thriller FEMME

Utopia has acquired the North American rights to the suspenseful queer thriller FEMME, the debut feature from Sam H. Freeman and Ng Choon Ping, based on their 2021 BIFA-winning and BAFTA-nominated short film of the same name. FEMME premiered at the 2023 Berlin International Film Festival, where it was the subject of critical acclaim and fierce debate among audiences.

The daring and complex London-set neo-noir stars Nathan Stewart-Jarrett (Candyman, Angels in America on Broadway) and George MacKay (1917, Captain Fantastic) in an enthralling and sexually-charged game of cat-and-mouse. The film was produced by Myles Payne and Sam Ritzenberg of Agile Films. Marnie Podos of Under New Mgmt executive produced alongside Head of BBC Film Eva Yates.

FEMME follows Jules (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett), whose life and career as a drag queen is destroyed by a homophobic attack. But when he re-encounters his attacker, the deeply-closeted Preston (George MacKay), in a gay sauna, Jules is presented with a chance to exact revenge. Unrecognizable out of his wig and make-up, Jules infiltrates Preston’s life, and in doing so, discovers power in a different kind of drag…

The film has been praised as a “Stylish, commendably uncompromising fusion of genre fireworks and measured, thoughtful character study” (Variety); “A gripping revenge tale that refuses to give easy answers to complex issues of gender, sexuality, and toxic masculinity” (Collider); “All the makings of a classic noir movie: except that the anti-hero and the femme fatale are now both the same character; Femme can be an uncomfortable watch at times, but it’s also a vital one.” (INTO); “Subversive, unsettling and sexually charged; A thrillingly transgressive erotic thriller” (Screen Daily).

Directors Sam H. Freeman and Ng Choon Ping stated: “We are huge fans of thrillers, but we felt that the predominantly hyper-masculine genre often excludes the queer perspective. By putting a gay protagonist at the heart of a thriller, we aimed to invert expectations, and push stories from the margin, and ourselves as queer artists, into the mainstream.“

Eva Yates, Head of BBC Film, said: “We were completely gripped by Sam and Ping’s brilliant short film and their incredibly compelling thriller script–a genre so rare in British film, but so desired by audiences. It was an absolute pleasure to build the film with them as directors alongside their exceptional cast, crew and producers at Agile Films and Under New Mgmt, and to continue our valued partnership with Anton.”

“FEMME is the kind of fresh and daring take on the thriller genre that Utopia exists to champion and share with audiences; it crackles with electricity while layering in complex and deep emotional resonance,” said Danielle DiGiacomo, Utopia’s Head of Content. “Our entire Utopia team feels lucky to be partnering with such a talented group of filmmakers to give audiences an experience they won’t soon forget.”

Sarah Musnicky
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