A24 has acquired the North American rights to one of Cannes‘ buzziest titles, Aftersun by Scottish filmmaker Charlotte Wells. The drama, which stars Emmy winner Paul Mescal opposite newcomer Frankie Corio, marked Wells‘ feature directorial debut. Aftersun also made a strong first impression with critics during the festival’s prestigious Critic’s Week. IndieWire first reported the news, noting that the price tag reportedly ranged in the mid-seven figures.
Aftersun features Mescal and Corio as a father and his 11-year-old daughter, Sophie, on vacation during a holiday back in the late 1990s. It’s all framed through an older Sophie (Celia Rowlson-Hall) who reflects on both the joy and the melancholy they shared on the trip years later, piecing together everything from her memories real and imagined with the help of miniDV footage to fill in the gaps. Years removed from that holiday, she uses all she has to try and reconcile the father she knew with the man she didn’t. The film’s presentation also evokes a feeling of nostalgia as past happy memories and home tapes give way to something darker.
Producers for the film included Moonlight‘s Adele Romanski alongside Barry Jenkins, Mark Ceryak for PASTEL, and Amy Jackson for Unified Theory. BBC Films developed Aftersun and financed the tearjerker alongside BFI and Screen Scotland, in association with Tango. Eva Yates for BBC Film, Lizzie Francke for BFI, Kieran Hannigan for Screen Scotland, and Tim Headington and Lia Buman for Tango all served as executive producers.
In picking up Aftersun, A24 is choosing to ride with Mescal once again in a Cannes product. They were also behind the other entry he appeared in, God’s Creatures, which also garnered high praise from critics. This seems like a good bet to make given that the film currently holds a coveted 100% from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. A24 had a busy Cannes in general, also bringing Ethan Coen‘s new documentary Jerry Lee Lewis: Trouble in Mind to the festival. Kelly Reichardt’s Showing Up, Claire Denis’ The Stars at Noon, and Jesse Eisenberg’s When You Finish Saving the World were also among the company’s Cannes appearances.
Welles wasn’t a complete unknown before making Aftersun. She directed three shorts, Tuesday, Blue Christmas, and Laps, and served as producer on a number of shorts as well as the comedy web series F to 7th before moving on to her defining Cannes feature. Between the high-profile star in Mescal, an electric newcomer in Corio, and a stacked production team, her feature debut has put her on the map as a filmmaker.
At the moment, there’s no release date set yet for Aftersun.