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Celluloid Dreams Picks Up ‘Heart of a Dog,’ ‘From Afar’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Award-winning sales label takes two Venice competition players

From Afar

Hengameh Panahi’s Celluloid Dreams has acquired world sales rights to Laurie Anderson’s “Heart of a Dog” and Venezuelan Lorenzo Vigas’ debut, “Desde Alla” (From Afar).

Meanwhile, Toronto distributor Films We Like has acquired all Canadian rights to the movie, which screens at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 13.

Both world premiere in competition at the 72nd Venice Festival, which kicked off Wednesday with “Everest.”

“Heart of a Dog,” soon to segue from Venice to New York, Toronto and San Sebastian, a sign of festival directors’ large enthusiasm for the title, is a personal feature-essay described as a film journey through love, life, death and language.

“Heart of a Dog” nominally centers on Anderson’s rat terrier Lolabelle, who died in 2011, but then weaves in childhood memories, video diaries, philosophical musings on data collection and surveillance culture and tributes to artists, all fused with Anderson’s violin compositions, hand-drawn animation, 8mm home movies and exhibition artwork.

“’Heart of a Dog’ is so personal and unique that it really resonates, questions the essence of storytelling, where  stories come from,” Panahi told Variety.

“From Afar,” produced by Rodolfo Cova, is one of only two first features in Venice’s competition lineup. Guillermo Arriaga (“Babel”) advised on the screenplay and also produces alongside Mexican director Michel Franco (“Chronic”) and “Chronic” producer Gabriel Ripstein, whose “600 Miles” won best first feature at this year’s Berlin festival. Alfredo Castro (Pablo Larrain’s Berlin 2015 Grand Jury Winner “The Club”) stars in his first outing outside his native Chile.

“From Afar” turns on a dentist (Castro) who befriends a small-time thug. “’From Afar’ is a film where form and narrative really sync. There’s a great sense of time and space, in the story and frame composition,” Panahi said.