Script is by Medina, Berdejo

MADRID — Underscoring the increasing allure of Spanish psychological thrillers, Elle Driver has pounced on international rights to “Insensibles” (Painless) before the film goes before the cameras.

The feature debut of Spanish director Juan Carlos Medina is produced by two go-ahead French companies, Antoine Simkine’s Les Films d’Antoine and Francis Cognard’s Tobina Film. It is co-written by Medina and Luiso Berdejo.

Berdejo is regarded as a seminal new Spanish filmmaker. After breaking through with Martian body-snatching short “For(r)est in the Des(s)ert,” Berdejo co-wrote Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza’s “REC,” which was a B.O. hit in Spain ($13 million gross) and had a good bow in France (a 12-day $2.6 million take). It is now set up at Screen Gems for a remake.

Berdejo’s feature debut as helmer, Kevin Costner starrer “The New Daughter,” will be distributed Stateside by New Line Cinema.

Spanish-born Medina grew up in the U.S. and was vid clip helmer for the BBC.

The screenplay for “Painless” won a young talent award at France’s Equinoxe writing lab.

“Painless” weaves two stories: in one, during the Spanish Civil War, a psychiatric asylum rehabilitates children born who can feel no pain by teaching them to feel physical suffering.

In the second, set in 2007, a brilliant neurosurgeon, again who feels no pain, searches for his biological parents, needing a bone marrow transplant.

French actor Tomas Lemarquis (“Noi Albino”) will play a survivor of these experiments.

“The film talks about basic concepts of life, about how people confront pain, from childhood through their adulthood,” said Elle Driver partner Adeline Fontan Tessaur.

At Cannes, Elle Driver will be introducing the film to buyers on the basis of its screenplay, co-partner Eva Diederix said.

Film’s Spanish-language is no barrier, said Fontan Tessaur. “Just look at ‘Pan’s Labyrinth,’ ‘The Orphanage’ and ‘REC,’” she added.

Pic shoots third quarter 2008.

Emilio Mayorga contributed to this report.

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