Kino Lorber acquires WILLOW - North Macedonia's Official Oscar Entry from Milcho Manchevski


"Willow" is North Macedonia's Official International Feature Film Submission to the 93rd Academy Awards®

Academy Award® Nominee and Golden Lion-Winner Manchevski (“Before the Rain”) Returns to His Macedonian Roots in a Heart-Felt Tale of Three Mothers

NEW YORK, NY… (January 14, 2021)…Kino Lorber announces that it has acquired U.S distribution rights to Milcho Manchevski’s multi-award-winning drama "Willow," North Macedonia's international feature film submission for the 93rd Academy Awards®. “Willow” premiered at the Rome Film Festival before going on to win the Best Director prize at Raindance, Best Film at Cinequest and Silver Palm in Valencia amongst other international awards. 

Manchevski is an Academy Award® nominee and Golden Lion-winner best known for his debut film "Before the Rain” which was Macedonia’s first entry in Academy Awards® and its first Oscar® nomination in 1995. That film also won the Independent Spirit and the Golden Lion in Venice.

“Willow” is slated for release in the Spring of 2021, followed by a VOD release on Kino Now and home video.  The film is about three women struggling to become mothers and contending with the issues of control over their bodies, struggle against tradition, loyalty, adoption and motherhood. The multi-layered drama is set in a medieval Macedonian village and in a contemporary city.

The deal for "Willow" was negotiated by Kino Lorber SVP Wendy Lidell and Matteo Lovadina, CEO of Reel Suspects, that is handling world sales. 

Lidell commented “Milcho Manchevski’s new film is a powerful, poignant, brilliantly acted, and visually stunning look at motherhood in three chapters spanning centuries.  We can’t wait to share this profound work with US audiences.”

Willow" was written and directed by Manchevski and produced by Jane Kortoshev through Banana Film, Baba Film, Pioneer Pictures (Hungary), the Tirana Film Institute (Albania), Saga Film and BNP Paribas Fortis Film Finance in Belgium. The late British producer Nik Powell was Executive Producer with his producing partner Ian Prior. 

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Three stories, three unlikely heroines.

A medieval couple in Macedonia cannot conceive. An old woman offers help – but only if they give her their firstborn. A year after they have a baby, she pays them a visit.

A taxi driver hits a man in the street. The ambulance and neighbors come and go. Seated alone on the curb in the rain, he waits for the police. Taken with his honesty, Rodna brings him an umbrella. Three years later they are married, but can’t conceive – until they try in-vitro. She gets pregnant with twins, but it turns out one of the babies will be deformed. Knowing that he opposes abortion, she faces a tough choice.

Rodna’s sister has adopted a 5-year-old boy. He is very intelligent, but does not say a word. One day he goes missing.

Writer/Director - Milcho Manchevski

Milcho Manchevski’s acclaimed "Before the Rain" is considered “one of the greatest debut feature films in the history of cinema” (Annette Insdorf) and “one of the most important films of the decade” (Ann Kibbey). The New York Times included it on its list “Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made”. It won the Golden Lion in Venice, Independent Spirit, an Academy Award nomination and 30 other awards.

“Manchevski continues down his distinctive artistic path” (Hollywood Reporter) with the award-winning features "Dust" (which opened Venice 2001), "Shadows," "Mothers," "Bikini Moon," the short forms "The End of Time," "Thursday," "Macedonia Timeless," "1.73," Arrested Development’s "Tennessee" and an episode of HBO`s The Wire. “His work stands out in world cinema for its unique way of playing with space, time and emotion” (Keith Brown).

Roger Ebert said, “Work like this keeps me going. A reminder of the nobility that film can attain.” “His unique blend of experimentation, poetry, emotion, and a demand for the active participation of the viewer in the construction of meaning are highly praised.“ (Conor McGrady). His work is part of the curricula at numerous universities and is the subject of many essays and books.

Manchevski holds an honorary doctorate from VGIK in Moscow. He is a member of the Directors Guild of America, European Film Academy and the PEN Club.

He has published books of photographs, essays and fiction; he has also taught and lectured extensively (NYU, Feirstein, EICTV, Babelsberg, London Film School, VGIK, Chicago University, etc.).

Kino Lorber

With a library of over 4,000 titles, Kino Lorber Inc. has been a leader in independent art house distribution for 35 years, releasing 30 films per year theatrically under its Kino Lorber, Kino Repertory and Alive Mind Cinema banners, garnering seven Academy Award® nominations in nine years. In addition, the company brings over 350 titles yearly to the home entertainment and educational markets through physical and digital media releases. With an expanding family of distributed labels, Kino Lorber handles releases in ancillary media for Zeitgeist Films, Cohen Media Group, Greenwich Entertainment, Artsploitation, Palisades Tartan, Menemsha Films, Raro Video, and others, placing physical titles through all wholesale, retail, and direct to consumer channels, as well as direct digital distribution through over 40 OTT services including all major TVOD and SVOD platforms. In 2019, the company launched its new art house digital channel Kino Now which features over 1000 titles from the acclaimed Kino Lorber library. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kino Marquee initiative was launched in 2020 pioneering "virtual theatrical" releases of art house films with revenue shares that allows audiences to support almost 400 local independent theaters.