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Italy’s ‘Respiro’ Cannes crix winner

Sony has pic for North America

CANNES — Capping off a week of rousing audience response and strong sales for the low-budget feature, “Respiro (Grazia’s Island)” by Italian director Emanuele Crialese has been named best film of the Cannes fest’s Intl. Critics Week sidebar.

The evocative drama set in a Sicilian fishing community on the island of Lampedusa earlier in the fest was picked up for North American release by Sony Pictures Classics. The film, which stars Valeria Golino and Vincenzo Amato, was released simultaneously with its Cannes bow by domestic distrib Medusa Film.

Pic was produced by Domenico Procacci through his Fandango banner in Rome, in co-production with French outfits Les Films de Tournedos and Roissy Films.

Associate producer Raphael Berdugo, who is handling sales on the film through Paris-based Roissy, confirmed acquisition deals in Cannes for Australia and New Zealand with Palace, and was expecting to close Germany by end of Friday.

Other territories sold in Cannes include Iceland and Israel, with negotiations under way for France, Japan, Spain and key Latin American markets.