Winstar in buying mood at N.Y. Fest

'Innocence,' Venice winner 'Circle' to be distributed in 2001

Winstar Communications acquired two pics on the opening day of the New York Film Festival, landing U.S. rights to Iranian director Jafar Panahi’s “The Circle,” which took the Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Fest, and “The Comedy of Innocence,” helmed by French-based Chilean exile Raul Ruiz.

Winstar, which tracked both films at Venice and Toronto, now owns distribution rights to three of the New York fest’s 26 features, having picked up Edward Yang’s “Yi Yi” after Cannes.

More than half of the fest entries are now attached to distributors.

“The Circle” is a candid portrait of several Iranian women, including a single mother and a prostitute. Panahi previously directed “The White Balloon,” which screened at the New York Fest in 1995.

“The Comedy of Innocence” depicts a boy equipped with a camcorder who decides one day that his mom, played by Isabelle Huppert, is not his real mother.

Winstar plans to distribute the films theatrically in 2001 and subsequently on its own video/DVD label. Financial terms of the acquisitions were not disclosed.

Krysanne Katfoolis, senior veep of acquisitions at Winstar, acquired “The Circle” from Celluloid Dreams and “The Comedy of Innocence” from TF1 International.

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