First major-territory pacts sealed on Mid-East drama

PARIS — Raphael Berdugo, former owner of Roissy Films, one of France’s flagship production-sales houses, is back in business.

Playing off a Friday screening at the Unifrance Paris Rendez-vous, Berdugo’s new Paris-based shingle Cite Films licensed Lorraine Levy’s “The Other Son” to Italy’s Teodora.

Haut et Court, producer-distributors of Palme d’Or winning “The Class,” will handle French distribution of “Son,” a Jerusalem-set identity drama about a young Israeli who discovers his parents were Palestinian.

Starring Emmanuelle Devos, Pascal Elbe, Jules Sitruk and Mehdi Dehbi, “Son’s” French release is skedded for March 28.

The deals mark the first major-territory pacts on the Cite production. In a one-two move Berdugo says he’ll try to repeat on other titles.

Cite both co-produced “Son” — with Rapsodie Production — and reps international sales rights, putting up both a minimum guarantee for sales, plus co-production equity.

Cite pre-sold “Son” on its screenplay to top-notch arthouse distributors in Benelux (Cineart), Switzerland (Frenetic) and Canada (Seville), normally among the first territories to fall on French titles given their part French-speaking populations.

Berdugo licensed Sweden (Tri Art Films) at Paris and reports “strong interest” from Germany, U.K., Australia and Poland.

“Son” reps a more serious turn for Levy (“The First Time I Was 20″) after her male divorcee romancer “Mes Amis, mes amours” in 2008.

Berdugo left Roissy at the end of June three years after he sold it for €28 million ($35.7 million) to Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp. At Roissy he produced and sold Nadine Labaki’s “Caramel” and Emanuele Crialese’s “Respiro.”

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