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Berlin: Silver Bear Alfred Bauer Prize Winner ‘Ixcanul’ Rolls Out Major Territory Sales (EXCLUSIVE)

Guatemala-set tale of young Kaqchikel’s woman’s tribulations on track to sell over the world

Berlin: Silver Bear Alfred Bauer Prize
Courtesy of Berlin Film Festival

MADRID — Described by Variety’s Scott Foundas as “a transporting, hypnotically beautiful debut feature” and “downright Herzogian (far more Herzogian than Herzog’s own ‘Queen of the Desert’),” Guatemalan Jayro Bustamante’s Berlin competition entry “Ixacanul” has broken out to major territory sales, with many more deals on the way.

Produced by Guatemala’s La Casa de Produccion and Edgard Tenembaum’s Paris-based Tu Vas Voir, whose credits also include Walter Salles’ “The Motorcycle Diaries,”

Ixcanul” won the 65th Berlin Festival’s Silver Bear Alfred Bauer Prize Saturday night for a film that opens up new perspectives.

From its first screening at Berlin – sales agent Film Factory opted not to send out screeners or links before Berlin –

“Icxanul” has closed Italy and Japan, both with significant indie distributors: Andrea Occhipinti’s Lucky Red and Japan’s Gaga Communications. ARP Selection, one of France’s major art film distributors, took distribution rights to France before Berlin in a deal negotiated with Tu Vas Voir . A Belgian arthouse distribution institution, Cineart has bought Benelux: Vision Sudest has rights to Switzerland.

In further deals, Vendetta has acquired Australia/New Zealand, Spentzos has closed Greece, Mediavision Turkey, Dexin former-Yugoslavia and Moving Turtle the Middle East.

“We have got an incredible feedback from buyers with multiple offers in some territories. They loved the film and appreciate its uniqueness, beauty and powerful message,” said Film Factory’s Vicente Canales. “We will be able to close deals all over the world very soon.”

Film Factory is also negotiating a North American deal, Canales added.

World premiering at Berlin on its first Saturday, “Ixcanul” also ranked No. 3 in Screen Daily’s Critics Poll, tying with Jafar Panahi’s “Taxi” and Pablo Larrain’s “The Club,” the Golden Bear and Grand Jury Prize winners respectively.

The story of a young Mayan woman, living in a community of Kaqchikel-speaking coffee farmers, whose unwanted pregnancy brings her into final- and shocking – contact with the modern world she dreamt so much about, “Ixcanul” delivers a sucker punch about what Bustamante calls one driving theme of “Ixcanul”: the “impossibility of an underage woman, who is Mayan and lives far from a big city, to determine her own destiny.”

“Gabriel Garcia Marquez embodied magic realism. Unfortunately, a more appropriate term for Guatemala would often be tragic realism,” Bustamante told Variety at San Sebastian where “Ixcanul” already proved a standout when seen in rough-cut at the festival’s Films in Progress.