Balloons lifts Armendariz’s ‘Afraid’

It's company's first Spanish pickup

Spanish helmer Montxo Armendariz’s “Don’t Be Afraid,” which garnered glowing reviews in Spain, is hitting international markets via Paris-based sales company Funny Balloons.

“Miedo” turns on a 25-year-old girl (Michelle Janner) sexually abused as a child by her father (Lluis Homar, “Broken Embraces”).

Still traumatized, she confronts her parents. Belen Rueda (“Julia’s Eyes”) plays her deny-it-all mother.

With film-by-film alliances, Funny Balloons has helped turn some of Latin America’s up-and-coming directors — including Pablo Larrain (“Tony Manero,” “Post Mortem”) and Mexico’s Fernando Eimbcke (“Lake Tahoe”) — into widely selling helmers.

Produced by Puy Oria, “Afraid” is Funny Balloon’s first Spanish pick-up for international.

“This is a tough, sensitive subject treated gracefully,” said Funny Balloons’ Peter Danner.

Alta Films released “Afraid” in Spain April 29 where it grossed €376,199 ($541,727) in its first 10 days.

It garnered some of the best critical reactions for any recent Spanish pic. Daily paper El Pais called “Afraid” “notable, profound.”

Funny Balloons is also teaming with Wild Bunch to jointly handle international pre-sales on Abel Ferrara’s “4:44 Last Day on Earth,” about a couple confronting the inescapable end of the world. Starring Willem Dafoe, Shanyn Leigh (“Public Enemies”), Paul Hipp and Natasha Lyonne, “Earth” is produced by Larrain’s Chile-based Fabula, Wild Bunch and Funny Balloons.

It’s Funny Balloons’ first production and the first movie it will pre-sell.

“Production gives you ownership of a film. Sometimes you want to do something special and you just have to put hard cash on the table,” Danner said.