Jessica Chastain Was “Nervous” to Attend Venice Film Festival Amid Strikes, But Wanted to Show Support for SAG-AFTRA

Peter Sarsgaard and Jessica Chastain Enter Oscar Race as ‘Memory’ Is Bought, Set for December Release (Exclusive)

Just as it was beginning to look like the dance card for this season’s Oscar race was full, the release date for a highly acclaimed film that was not expected to drop until 2024 has been set for December 2023.

The Hollywood Reporter has learned that the North American distribution rights of Michel Franco‘s Memory, which stars Peter Sarsgaard and Oscar winner Jessica Chastain, have been acquired by Ketchup Entertainment, which will release it shortly before the end of the year.

Memory tells the story of Sylvia (Chastain), a social worker who leads a simple and structured life until Saul (Sarsgaard) follows her home from their high school reunion. Their surprise encounter profoundly impacts both of them and opens the door to memories, challenges and revelations that will leave a lasting impact.

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The hope and belief of the film’s makers and new distributor is that Academy members will respond to Sarsgaard’s performance just as enthusiastically as attendees did at last month’s Venice International Film Festival, where the film’s world premiere was greeted with an eight-minute standing ovation and the jury awarded Sarsgaard the Volpi Cup for best actor.

This awards season, however, Sarsgaard — who has never even been Oscar-nominated, despite giving standout performances in films such as 2003’s Shattered Glass, 2004’s Kinsey, 2005’s Jarhead, 2009’s An Education and 2021’s The Lost Daughter — will compete in the supporting actor category, while Chastain, a perennial awards darling who took home the best actress Oscar for 2021’s The Eyes of Tammy Faye, will contend in the lead actress category.

In addition to Sarsgaard and Chastain, the film also stars Emmy winner Merritt Wever, Eighth Grade breakout Elsie Fisher, Brooke Timber, Jessica Harper and The Good Wife alum Josh Charles.

Memory’s hoped-for march to the Dolby will continue on Saturday night just a bit down Hollywood Blvd. at the TCL Chinese Theaters, when the film screens as part of AFI FEST, with Franco and — thanks to a SAG Interim Agreement — Sarsgaard in attendance.

Memory delivers a poignant journey into the depths of human emotion anchored by fantastic performances,” Ketchup Entertainment CEO Gareth West said in a statement. “We are delighted to collaborate with such passionate filmmakers on bringing this movie to audiences in the U.S.”

Added Franco, “Memory is a passionate undertaking — from Jessica and Peter, our producers and our whole filmmaking team. Thanks to the SAG Interim Agreement, we went to Venice and Toronto together to launch the film. We have chosen an independent path for distribution in the U.S. — we know it moved the people at Ketchup, and we are embarking on this adventure together with independence and passion.”

Ketchup Entertainment launched its domestic distribution label in 2012 and quickly established itself as an industry innovator in both creative theatrical releasing and film financing on a diverse slate of titles. With dedicated acquisitions and marketing funds, and direct theatrical and ancillary outputs, Ketchup actively acquires and distributes films across all media. As a boutique label, Ketchup works closely with filmmakers and producers to craft specialized, targeted marketing campaigns.

Memory was produced by Teorema (formerly Lucia Films, it’s the production company of Franco and Eréndira Núñez Larios) in collaboration with High Frequency Entertainment (its other recent credits include Azazel Jacobs’ Toronto standout His Three Daughters and Charlie McDowell’s upcoming The Summer Book starring Glenn Close), and in association with Screen Capital / Screen One, MUBI and Case Study Films.

Producers are Franco, Larios, Alex Orlovsky and Duncan Montgomery. Executive producers are Moisés Chiver and Paula Perez Manzanedo; for High Frequency, Jack Selby; for Screen One, Joyce Zylberberg (Screen Capital’s founder and the former Chile Film Commissioner), Tatiana Emden (former Executive Secretary of the Chilean National Film Fund), Ralph Haiek and Patricio Rabuffetti; for MUBI, Jason Ropell and Efe Cakarel; and for The Match Factory, Michael Weber.

Bart Walker and Jay Cohen at Gersh negotiated the deal with West.