‘Osama’ clicks with Euros

Afghan pics sell to art-film buying group

Five members of a pan-European art-pic buying alliance have made their first full joint acquisition, teaming to seal France, Italy Switzerland and Benelux on “Osama,” the Directors Fortnight Afghan drama.

France’s Haut et Court, Italy’s Lucky Red, Switzerland’s Frenetic, Holland’s A Film and Belgium’s Cineart coordinated the sale out of their Paris office.

“Osama” portrays religious fanaticism and misogyny in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

“This is a very strong film,” says Lucky Red’s Andrea Occhipinti. “There is a lot of curiosity about its subject, and as distributors we have all handled interesting, controversial movies before.”

Directed by Siddiq Barmak, whose last docu was burned by the Taliban, “Osama” was produced by Julie LeBrocquy and Julia Fraser. The joint sale was closed by Swipe Films.

Offers are in for the U.K., Germany, Russia, Argentina and Spain, says Swipe’s Frank Mannion. U.S. buyers are also circling “Osama,” he adds.

The five-partner consortium now has a central Paris-based office run by former Polygram exec Chris Mercier.

According to Occhipinti, the consortium aims to acquire completed pics and enter projects upstream with joint pre-buys or as co-producers.

The partnership allows the group to get into films at an early stage. “The partners also plan to coordinate marketing and DVD distribution in order to reduce costs,” Ochipinti says.

Spain’s biggest art-pic distrib Alta Films is no longer part of the buying alliance, Occhipinti confirms.

Alta’s withdrawal underscores the difficulties indie art-pic distribs have in Spain to sell their acquisitions on TV, a problem that limits their acquisition capacities.

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