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MADRID – Hot off Saturday’s Heart of Sarajevo win for best film, Georgian coming-of-age tale “In Bloom” has been picked up for U.S. distribution by Brooklyn-based Big World Pictures.

Big World Pictures plans a U.S. theatrical release for “In Bloom” in early 2014 after it has made the U.S. fest circuit rounds.

Sold by Paris-based Memento Films Intl., “In Bloom” also took best actress for its two teen femme leads – Lika Babluani and Mariam Bokeria – at the 19th Sarajevo Festival. Adding to “In Bloom’s” silverware, – it scooped the Cicae award at the Berlinale’s Forum, and the Fipresci and Golden Firebird nods at Hong Kong – the Sarajevo trophy trawl establishes first-time Georgian helmer-scribe Nana Ekvtimishvili, who co-directed with Germany’s Simon Gross (“Fata Morgana”), as a talent to track and gives extra reason to trend-watchers who argue that, when it comes to discovering new talent in Europe, Georgia is the new Romania.

Based on Ekvtimishvili’s memories, “In Bloom” is set in the Georgian capital of Tblisi in 1992 – after the break-up of the Soviet Union and as unrest brews in the neighboring region of Abkhazia. It follows the friendship of two girl schoolmate-soul pals, the middle-class Eka and the class beauty Natia, who comes from a perpetually feuding working-class family. As they leave childhood behind them, they ignore arcane customs, try to escape their turbulent family life and confront multiple instances of male dominance and violence that threaten to tip the film into tragedy.

“Anyone who thinks there are no surprises left in the coming-of-age genre needs to see this film,” enthused Big World Pictures’ Jonathan Howell.

He added: “In addition to a powerful evocation of time and place never before captured in a film, the story is gripping from beginning to end, and the two leads are true discoveries, inhabiting their roles in utterly convincing performances.”

“In Bloom” was very well received at Berlin – Variety called it “an absorbing, intelligently assembled coming-of-ager” – where, among buyers, Artificial Eye acquired rights for the U.K., Palace for Australia and Imagine for Benelux.

A three-way co-production between Germany’s Indiz Film, Georgia’s Polare Film and France’s Arizona Productions, “In Bloom” was co-produced by German broadcaster ZDF and pre-bought by Arte. It also received support from the Georgian Film Center, a key driving force in Georgia’s building film renaissance.