EXCLUSIVE: Juno Films has picked up North American rights to Hilma — the latest film written and directed by three-time Academy Award nominee Lasse Hallström (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape), which is poised to make its North American premiere at the Palm Springs Film Festival.
The cinematic portrait of the Swedish artist and feminist pioneer Hilma af Klint — who’s played at different ages by Tora Hallström and Oscar nominee Lena Olin — will premiere theatrically at the Quad Cinema in NYC on April 14 before expanding nationwide.
Hilma brings to the big screen the life story of a woman who defied conventions and revolutionized the art world when her work was exhibited in its entirety in 2019 at the Guggenheim Museum in NYC. The artist died in 1944, unknown and unrecognized as the woman who invented abstract painting, displacing Kandinsky, Malevich and Mondrian as the initiators of abstract painting and Modernism. From her adoration of the occultist Rudolf Steiner and her invincible belief in spirits, to her unconventional romantic life and close circle of fellow female artists who converged around Hilma and her atelier, the film provides a portrait of a woman who chose to remain true to her vision as an artist, despite working in a hostile, misogynistic world where women were not expected to express themselves and were not yet allowed to vote.
Hallström’s latest also stars Tom Wlaschiha and Catherine Chalk. Helena Danielsson produced the film for Viaplay Studios, alongside Hallström and Sigurjon Sighvatsson.
“Lasse Hallström has brought to life one of the least recognized and most enigmatic painters working in the early twentieth century,” said Juno Films CEO, Elizabeth Sheldon. “His portrait of Hilma is nuanced and will help cement a place in the canon of great artists for this visionary whom critics initially overlooked, partly due to Hilma’s own insouciance towards the art world and because her paintings lay in storage until their discovery in 1967.”
“I’ve spent several years trying to understand the mystery of Hilma af Klint,” stated Hallström. “This is a story about an unwavering search for the truth about humanity and the universe, at a time when men set all the rules. Despite so many obstacles, Hilma created art that influences our lives today. My ambition is for the audience to experience these struggles with all their senses.”
Juno Films is a boutique film distributor and world sales agent founded by Sheldon, who has over 20 years of experience in the distribution of documentary and feature films for both North American all-rights releases and international sales. The company’s recent releases include Lucile Hadzihalilovic’s surreal drama Earwig, Peter Hedges’ pandemic drama The Same Storm, and the Sundance documentary The Most Beautiful Boy in the World from filmmakers Kristina Lindström and Kristian Petri.
The Hilma deal was negotiated by Sheldon of Juno Films and ViaPlay Productions.