Pic won San Sebastian special mention

SAN SEBASTIAN — L.A.-based sales, distribution and production company FiGa Films has taken North American and international rights to romantic comedy “La Vida util” (A Useful Life) from noted Latin American helmer Federico Veiroj.

Excluding the territories of “Life’s” co-producers — Uruguay, Spain and Netherlands — deal was broached at Toronto and sealed at San Sebastian, said Sandro Fiorin, FiGa Films VP acquisitions.

FiGa will sell on North American rights. If it does not get an acceptable offer, it may distribute the film itself, said Alex Garcia, FiGa VP distribution.

Uruguayan Veiroj’s follow-up to Cannes Directors’ Fortnight player “Acne,” “Life” reflects FiGa’s mission statement of nourishing emerging filmmakers from Latin America, Spain and Portugal who are “breaking the binds of traditional filmmaking.”

“Life” played Toronto’s Festival’s Visions program to acclaim this month.

A standout at San Sebastian last week, it won a special mention in the Zabaltegi-New Directors section on Saturday.

Screening as a rough cut, it won over industry execs at a strong San Sebastian Festival’s 2009 Films in Progress, taking sidebar’s Industry Award.

A warm and knowing tribute to cinematheque work and film classics, “Life” turns on a gangling cinematheque programmer (played by real-life film critic Jorge Jellinek) who, losing his job, sets out to embrace life and court a femme law professor with joie de vivre and inspired by films he loves.

Printed in black-and-white, and never outstaying its welcome — it comes in at a crisp 67 minutes — “Life” will now segue with FiGa on board to the Zurich, Warsaw and Pusan fests.

Veiroj’s second feature, “Life” is produced by Veiroj’s Cinekdoque in association with Spain’s Mediapro and Versatil Cinema.

“Life’s” acquisition follows FiGa’s first move into production, co-producing Mexican Nicolas Pereda’s “Summer of Goliath,” which won the main feature film Horizons Prize at Venice.

Two more worldwide pickups, Manuel Martin Cuenca’s “Half of Oscar” and Julio Hernandez Cordon’s “Marimbas from Hell,” world preemed at Toronto.

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