Thelma’ Producers At Zurich Avenue Talk Thrill Of Sundance Selection – Deadline


Swiss movie producers and financiers Karl Spoerri and Viviana Vezzani have been Sundance regulars for greater than 15 years, however this version is particular.

The pair, who have been driving forces behind the Zurich Film Festival (ZFF) up till 2019, are in Park City this 12 months with Thelma, which is the primary characteristic from their new firm Zurich Avenue to make it into Sundance.

Josh Margolin’s action-comedy-drama, starring 94-year-old June Squibb as a L.A. grandmother who units off on a buddy’s mobility scooter on a mission to trace down an Internet scammer, is proving one of many early hits of the pageant.

“On a personal level, it’s very meaningful because Sundance was always a big influence for us at the Zurich Film Festival from the start,” says Vezzani.

“We always loved going as programmers so getting Thelma accepted at Sundance was a dream come true.”

Former ZFF co-founder and creative director Spoerri recollects their first journey to Sundance in 2008 as additionally being memorable as a result of it was the place they fired off an e mail to Oliver Stone asking whether or not be keen on financing for W out of Zurich.

“It was a key moment. We were in the fourth year of the Zurich Film Festival and starting to move into production financing,” he says of their first push into movie producing and financing underneath the banner of Millbrook Pictures from 2008 to 2011.

Having spearheaded ZFF over the course of 14 years, the pair resigned from the pageant in 2019.

They introduced the launch of Zurich and L.A.-based growth and manufacturing firm Zurich Avenue in 2022, specializing in creating and creating high-end, filmmaker-driven characteristic movies, TV sequence and documentaries with worldwide potential.

Alongside Thelma, its credit thus far embrace Bill Pohlad’s Dreamin’ Wild, and Coky Giedroyc’s Greatest Days.

Dreamin’ Wild, starring Casey Affleck, Zooey Deschanel and Beau Bridges, world premiered in Venice in 2022 and was launched by Roadside Attractions within the U.S. final summer season. Greatest Days is the big-screen adaptation of the UK smash-hit musical The Band, with Aisling Bea and music from Take That. 

The firm additionally co-developed Netflix characteristic Nyad, starring Jodie Foster and Annette Bening, with Black Bear Pictures.

Vezzani says of the U.S. connection: “We both love North America, Canada and the U.S., and just spend a lot of time there. We also share a great love for American cinema and the tradition of American cinema. So, I think that influences a lot of where we look to for collaborations and projects.”

Zurich Avenue totally financed Thelma by way of its Swiss finance entity SPG Three, backed by non-public Swiss traders.

Speorri first began connecting non-public fairness with movie whereas constructing the Zurich Film Festival, which launched in 2005 with out public cash.

“It had no public funding for many years which is why we started off very small, but we went on to raise a tonne of money from private sponsors. We were always trying to bring private money to film,” he says.

“After three, four years, when the festival really started to grow, we were also able to attract some public money but to this day, I would say, 80% is private money and 20% is public money. When we left the festival in 2019, 90% was private money and we’re talking about a festival with a $10M budget. So, there was a lot of private money.”

He provides that Zurich Avenue won’t totally finance each challenge it boards, with the corporate determining the combination of finance on a project-by-project foundation.

Zurich Avenue related with Thelma – lead produced by Zoë Worth and Chris Kaye at L.A.-based manufacturing firm Bandwagon – by way of CAA Media Finance.

Spoerri and Vezzani solid sturdy connections with CAA Media Finance’s Roeg Sutherland and Benjamin Kramer, after inviting them to one of many early editions of ZFF’s movie finance targeted Zurich Summit. The pair have been common attendees ever since.

“We have a great relationship with CAA, so we look at what they send us,” says Vezzani. “Thelma was perhaps the quickest choice we’ve ever made. We have been in L.A. We noticed the script and met the staff, and it was like prompt.

“We do say, if it doesn’t scream ‘yes’, then it’s a ‘no’. I don’t say we always go by that. We’ve had projects where we maybe didn’t listen to our gut feeling 100% but on Thelma that was definitely the case.”

Vezzani suggests additional future collaborations might be cooking with the Thelma staff, which additionally contains producers Nicholas Weinstock and Benjamin Simpson.

“We attempt to deal with long run partnerships. When you have got a partnership with any person that’s profitable on all ranges, then I feel it’s pure to need to deal with these and attempt to collaborate on extra issues.

“I know some people like to go to festivals and take meetings from 8.30 in the morning to 10 at night but that’s not the way we normally like to do things,” she provides.

As Thelma hits the pageant circuit at Sundance, the place the film is on the lookout for distribution by way of CAA Media Finance, Spoerri and Vezzani are actually doubling down on their growth slate after the Hollywood strikes hiatus.

Projects embrace Sigal Avin’s psychological thriller A Perfect Marriage, produced by Patrick Wachsberger and Ashley Stern at Picture Perfect Federation.  

“We’re about to get a new draft from Sigal,” says Spoerri, including that growth exercise is lastly selecting up once more.

Further beforehand introduced tasks embrace Robert Schwentke finance world drama Bad Company, in regards to the real-life collapse of German digital cost specialist Wirecard, and So Happy For You, based mostly on Celia Laskey’s best-selling novel exploring feminine friendship via the prism of a marriage social gathering.

The firm can be creating its first TV sequence Hansen, based mostly on the Hansen Family Saga books by German author Ellin Carsta in regards to the fortunes of a nineteenth Century espresso importing household, set in Hamburg, Vienna and Cameroon.


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