EXCLUSIVE: Jessie Buckley, Oscar nominee (The lost girl) and Oscar winner Riz Ahmed (The long goodbye) joined Christos Nikou (Apples) expected debut feature in English Nailswe can reveal.

FilmNation kicks off sales on the hot package at the Cannes market next week and co-represents US rights with CAA Media Finance and WME Independent.

Nikou’s hailed pandemic-themed debut Apples was a trending title at the 2020 Venice Film Festival. He scripted his new project with Sam Steiner and Apples co-writer Stavros Raptis.

Cate Blanchett’s Dirty Films is producing alongside Arrival outfit FilmNation Entertainment, which is also funding. Jérôme Duboz will be the executive producer. Carey Mulligan was previously attached to the project but is no longer on board.

In the world of the surreal drama, described to us as a “grounded sci-fi love story,” a test has been discovered that measures whether couples are truly in love. To help couples succeed, institutes of love have opened up to guide them. Anna (Buckley) is skeptical of the positive result she has achieved with her longtime partner, so she begins working at a love institute as an assistant to Trevor (Ahmed), a mysterious and devoted instructor. .

The intriguing plot feels like prime territory for a Greek New Wave director. The playful yet serious undertones of the story resonate with early Yorgos Lanthimos, with whom Nikou cut his teeth as an assistant director on dog tooth (he was also AD on Richard Linklater’s Before midnight).

It’s also a winning cast. Olivier winner and Oscar nominee Buckley is known for her roles in wild rose, I’m thinking of ending things and The lost girl. Then she will star in Alex Garland and A24’s Cannes-bound Men; in Plan B and MGM women who talk alongside Frances McDormand, Rooney Mara and Claire Foy; and in Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s first film Hot milk.

Ahmed won the 2022 Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film for The long goodbye. For her performance in Amazon’s The sound of metal, he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor, a BAFTA and a SAG Award and won the Gotham Award and the Indie Spirit Award. He’s already won an Emmy for HBO The night of.

FilmNation President of Production Ashley Fox said, “We’ve been dying to work with Christos Nikou ever since he saw his wildly original debut, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to be a part of his new film. . Nails has a romance and warmth that drew us in from the first page of the script. It’s an absolute dream team that has come together around the film, and we’re thrilled to be a part of it.

Blanchett, Coco Francini and Andrew Upton of Dirty Films commented in a joint statement, “Jessie and Riz’s unique and phenomenal talents will perfectly capture the bizarre humor, heart and pathos embedded at the heart of Nails. We are thrilled to welcome them and the wonderful FilmNation team aboard to bring Christos Nikou’s profound vision to life.

The project joins a lively Cannes slate for FilmNation, with projects also including a noir thriller Knox leavesin which Michael Keaton will star and direct, and Woody Harrelson’s thriller Last breath.