Empire nabs rights to controversial 9/11 pic

Exec says film is 'anything but' anti-American

Gotham-based niche distrib Empire Pictures has clinched U.S. rights to four new titles, including controversial omnibus collection “September 11 (11’09’01),” in which 11 international filmmakers attempt to respond to the 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S.

The French-produced pic was accused of being anti-American before its premiere at last year’s Venice and Toronto fests. But Empire exec VP Edward Arentz said, “We found it anything but and in fact we think open-minded U.S. audiences will find it moving and thoughtful.”

Carole Baraton negotiated the sale for Wild Bunch following the AFM. Empire is planning a mid-summer release for the pic, which includes the work of helmers Ken Loach, Sean Penn, Claude Lelouch, Mira Nair, Youssef Chahine, Idrissa Ouedraogo, Danis Tanovic, Samira Makhmalbaf, Amos Gitai, Shohei Imamura and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.

The company’s other recent acquisitions at the Berlin fest are Brazilian helmer Aluizio Abranches’ tale of a bloody vendetta between warring families, “The Three Marias”; Diego Lerman’s Argentine road movie “Suddenly,” which won the Silver Leopard at last summer’s Locarno fest; and French veteran Michel Deville’s drama of holocaust survivors, “Almost Peaceful.”

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