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Think saddles ‘Camel’

Surprise Toronto hit picked up by specialty distrib

NEW YORK — Continuing the specialty distrib’s affinity for distinctive docu product, ThinkFilm has acquired North American rights to “The Story of the Weeping Camel,” one of the surprise hits of the Toronto fest, which follows a family of camel herders across Mongolia’s Gobi Desert.

Pickup was announced by ThinkFilm head of distribution Mark Urman and senior VP of acquisitions and business affairs Randy Manis, who closed the long-brewing deal with Neil Friedman and Beatrix Wesle of Los Angeles-based Menemsha Films.

“Weeping Camel” was co-directed by Mongolian documaker Byambasuren Davaa and Italian cinematographer Luigi Falorni. Natalie Lambsdorff produced with Tobias Siebert serving as exec producer.

Examining the intersections between the animal and human worlds, the film focuses on an extended family faced with a crisis when a mother camel in their herd rejects her newborn after a difficult delivery. Two young sons are sent to the regional capital to hire a musician to coax the mother camel into nursing her baby, which has the curious side effect of making the animal weep.

Discovered by Menemsha at a student fest, “Weeping Camel” is the first official Mongolian entry for the foreign-language Oscar and recently was nominated for a European Film Award as best docu of 2003.

ThinkFilm scored a major success this year with Oscar-nominated doc feature “Spellbound,” which is approaching $5.7 million at the domestic box office. Distrib has Brazilian doc “Bus 174” in current release and recently acquired Jonathan Demme’s nonfiction feature “The Agronomist,” which will be released next year.

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