Home Entertainment ‘Tatami,’ Co-Directed by Guy Nattiv and Zar Amir, Acquired by XYZ for...

‘Tatami,’ Co-Directed by Guy Nattiv and Zar Amir, Acquired by XYZ for North America (EXCLUSIVE)

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Tatami,” the Iranian drama from co-directors Guy Nattiv and Zar Amir, has been picked up by XYZ Films for North America, where both lip-synched English and original language versions will be released later this year.

The feature, which bowed in Venice 2023 where it won the Brian Award, made history by becoming the first film to be jointly directed by an Iranian and an Israeli filmmaker.

Starring Arienne Mandi, Amir, Jaime Ray Newman and Ash Goldeh, and written by Nattiv — an Oscar winner for his short film “Skin” — and Elham Erfani, “Tatami” is set during the Judo World Championships in Tbilisi, Georgia. Midway through the competition, Iranian female judo fighter Leila (Mandi) and her coach Maryam (Amir ) receive an ultimatum from the Islamic Republic ordering Leila to fake an injury and lose, lest she be branded a traitor of the state. With her own and her family’s freedom at stake, Leila is faced with an impossible choice: comply with the Iranian regime as her coach Maryam implores her to do, or fight on, for the gold. 

The film was produced by Mandy Tagger and Adi Ezroni for Keshet Studios, and Newman and Nattiv for New Native Pictures.

The rights deal was negotiated by Maya Amsellem from Westend and Jessica Lacy and Oliver Wheeler from Range on behalf of the filmmakers and James Emanuel Shapiro from XYZ Films. 

“What’s going on in the world makes me very sad. This movie is a shining force of light and represents the very best of the human spirit against adversity. I love this film so much and can’t wait to share it with audiences,” said XYZ Films’ president of domestic distribution Shapiro. 

Working with the cast and filmmakers, a perfectly lip-synced English version of “Tatami” for U.S. and Canadian audiences will be created using technology by AI company Flawless.

Current titles from XYZ Films include Sundance titles “Skywalkers: A Love Story” and “Krazy House,” plus “Blackberry,” which was released by IFC Films; Atom Egoyan’s TIFF selection “Seven Veils,” starring Amanda Seyfried; “Ash” starring Eiza González and Aaron Paul and directed by Flying Lotus: recent TIFF acquisition “Backspot,” starring Devery Jacobs and Evan Rachel Wood; the Netflix Original “Havoc,” directed by Gareth Evans and starring Tom Hardy and Forrest Whitaker; and “Daniela Forever” directed by Nacho Vigalondo and starring Henry Golding and Beatrice Grannó.