United Artists plows ‘Land’

Distrib takes N. American rights to Bosnian entry

CANNES — In a buy that inspired 24 hours of off-the-mark gossip, United Artists paid in the region of $1 million to win North American rights to the Bosnian Competition entry “No Man’s Land” from U.K.-based seller the Sales Co.

While rumors swirled that Sony Pictures Classics or Miramax was the winner of the bidding, UA was quietly closing its first deal on a Cannes Film Festival title that the label’s execs could remember.

Helming bow

The Bosnian-language “Land,” which marks Bosnia-born Danis Tanovic’s feature directing debut, is the story of two soldiers — a Bosnian and a Serb — who find themselves stranded between enemy lines during the 1993 Bosnian conflict.

UA’s last foreign-language release was Pedro Almodovar’s 1997 pic “Live Flesh.”

Produced by France’s Noe Prods. in association with Fabrica Cinema, Man’s Films, Counihan/Villiers Prods. and Studio Maj/Casablanca, “No Man’s Land” was backed by Simon Perry at British Screen. Cast includes Simon Callow and Katrin Cartlidge.

Sales Co. also sold the film in Japan (Bitters End), Spain (Golem), Israel (Shani), Switzerland (FilmCoopi), Alfa (Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile), Hungary (Budapest Film), Greece (Ama Films), Turkey (Umut Sanat), Korea (Korean Arts Center), Cosmopol (CIS), Hong Kong (First Distribution) and Baltic States (Fimimax).

Tanovic previously directed the documentaries “Portraits d’Artistes Pendant la Guerre,” about four artists during the siege of Sarajevo, and “L’Aube” and “Ca Ira,” about life in modern-day Bosnia.

Helmer also is responsible for the Bosnian army’s archive of more than 300 hours of film footage, which he shot on Sarajevo’s front lines.

Noe’s upcoming projects include Tom Tykwer’s “Heaven,” co-written by Krzysztof Kieslowski and Krzysztof Piesiewicz and starring Cate Blanchett and Giovanni Ribisi. Counhian/Villiers previously teamed with Noe on Milcho Manchevski’s Oscar-nominated “Before the Rain,” also backed by British Screen.

“We are really proud to acquire the surprise hit of Cannes,” said UA co-toppers Larry Gleason and Gerry Rich in a statement. “We look forward to making this very critically acclaimed film an important part of the UA slate for year end.”

Sales Co. head Jane Wright added, “Danis has launched his career with a remarkable piece of work.”

Deal was brokered by Wright, Gleason and Rich, along with UA head of acquisitions Sara Rose and manager of acquisitions Savannah Neeley.