Deal on Berlin hit clinched by Films Distribution

MADRID — New U.S. specialty distrib Rocket Releasing has acquired U.S. distribution rights to “Tomboy,” directed by Gallic writer-director Celine Sciamma and sold by Films Distribution.

“Tomboy” was one of the buzz titles of Berlin among critics and buyers alike from the festival get-go, achieving early high exposure by opening Panorama and Generation. It went on to scoop the Berlinale’s Teddy Jury Award.

According to Films Distribution’s co-principal Nicolas Brigaud-Robert, FD had to add two extra screening rooms at “Tomboy’s” first showing to accommodate the crowds lined-up for the movie’s premiere.

The U.S. deal crowns an impressive early rollout for “Tomboy,” which once more shows Berlin buyers to have been in an acquisitive mode this year, at least on artfilm standouts.

In major territory deals, Films Distribution closed Italy (Teodora Film), U.K. (Peccadillo Pictures), Germany (Alamode) and Spain (Casa de Peliculas).

Sciamma’s hit also sold to Austria (ThimFilm), Canada (Mongrel Media), Benelux (Cineart), Switzerland (Agora Films), Australia (Rialto Distribution) and Balkans (Demiurg).

Sciamma’s second feature, “Tomboy” turns on a 10-year-old girl, Laure, who moves to a new neighborhood outside Paris and decides to dress as a boy.

Shot on a modest Euros500,000 ($687,000) budget, it reaped critical plaudits for its telling observation of the rituals and nascent prejudices in budding gender identity, the originality of its pre-teen setting, and its naturalistic performances, led by newcomer Zoe Heran as Laure.

“Tomboy” also builds on the rep Sciamma established with her feature debut, Cannes 2007 Un Certain Regard player “Water Lilies,” an unflinching chronicle of the confusion, cruelty and embarrassment of teen sexuality.

“Lilies” shared the Louis Delluc Prize for best French first film of 2007.

Rocket Releasing was launched by Dan Griffiths and Rubens Aranha, a vet Brazilian distributor, in January. Griffiths was formerly a partner at Trans-Pacific Media, which advised multiple foreign distributors on acquisitions.

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