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‘Rat’ catches deal

Pic snares Merchant Ivory as U.S. distrib

NEW YORK — A day after Lynne Ramsay won the newcomer of the year award from the British Academy of Film & Television Arts, her film “Ratcatcher” has been picked up by Merchant Ivory Prods. for U.S. distribution.

Pic will mark the fifth film picked up by Merchant Ivory to distribute in the U.S. and is slated for a platform release on some 20 screens in major cities across the country.

“I was so taken with this film,” Ismail Merchant told Daily Variety. “I want to distribute this film in America, despite the people who said this won’t appeal to an American audience. These fools don’t understand American audiences.”

Merchant, James Ivory and Richard Hawley have set about finding little-seen works by talented directors.

Merchant said that although he and Ivory are much better known for directing and producing material, the company aims to create a distribution line for arthouse films that they particularly like.

“Ratcatcher,” which is being handled by Pathe in France and Britain, was lauded at the New Directors/New Films series at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Story follows the ups and downs as well as dreams of a 12-year-old boy in working-class Glasgow in the mid-1970s.

“This film has a power,” Merchant said. “It’s something very strong, the emotion with the family and the little boy.”

Previous Merchant Ivory releases include Theo Angelopoulos’ “Eternity for a Day,” which won the Palme D’Or at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival; and Lea Pool’s “Set Me Free,” which played in the Toronto, Berlin and New York Film Festivals.

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