Argentine pic generated buzz at Berlin fest

IFC Films has snapped up North American rights to Berlin fave “Puzzle.”

The Argentine pic about a woman who discovers she’s gifted at puzzling was helmed by first-timer Natalia Smirnoff and had its Berlinale competition bow on Thursday night.

Maria Onetto plays the lead, a middle-aged housewife who has devoted her life to her husband and grown children. When she’s given a puzzle, she finds she can solve it quickly and takes on a tournament training partner (Arturo Goetz).

IFC Entertainment prexy Jonathan Sehring said, “‘Puzzle’ completely charmed our entire team at the Berlinale. It is one of the rare crowd pleasers that manages to respect its audience and deliver profound thrills.”

Producers are Carousel Films’ Gabriele Pastore and La Ninas Pictures’ Caroline Dhainaut.

Smirnoff has served as a casting director on three of fellow Argentine director Lucrecia Martel’s films, including her last, “The Headless Woman.” She’s also worked as an assistant director.

Deal was negotiated by IFC’s Elizabeth Nastro and Memento Films Intl.’s Emilie Georges and Tanja Meissner.

Meissner also reported brisk foreign sales on “Puzzle,” which has sold to distribs in more than 15 territories so far.

IFC will bow “Puzzle” in theaters and VOD later this year, after a fall fest run.

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