After closing a string of acquisitions at the American Film Market, the L.A.-based distributor Strand Releasing has acquired North American rights to Lorenzo Vigas’ critically-acclaimed feature debut “From Afar” (“Desde Alla”). Pic just had its U.S. premiere at the AFI fest and nabbed the special jury prize for screenplay.

Repped in international markets by Hengameh Panahi’s Celluloid Dreams’ Directors Label, the Latin American debut movie had its world premiere at Venice where it won the Golden Lion for best film.

Penned by Vigas and Guillermo Arriaga (“Babel”),”From Afar” stars Alfredo Castro (“The Club”) as a dentist who befriends a younger hustler who at first scorns his interest. The pair eventually develops a bond that turns the tables on the unconventional relationship.

“My Directors’ Label is proud to welcome Lorenzo Vigas as a new strong distinctive talent to promote internationally over the years and for his body of work to come,” said Panahi, whose well-established company snatched up a trio of main prizes at Berlin, Cannes and Venice, notably with “From Afar.”

“My goal is to find the best distribution partnership in each country to make him and his films grow. I’m really happy to join force with Strand releasing to achieve that in North America, said Panahi, who noted that Strand Releasing’s dedication to auteur-driven films makes them shine as the best match,” said the topper.

Marcus Hu, co-founder of Strand Releasing, pointed out the shingle had “worked with Panahi on the early films of Francois Ozon and Gaspar Noe, and this debut (‘From Afar’) certainly follows in those footsteps.”

“From Afar” is produced by Rodolfo Cova and Arriaga, as well as Mexican director Michel Franco (“Chronic”) and “Chronic” producer Gabriel Ripstein (“600 Miles”).

Vigas said “‘From Afar’ was the second part of a trilogy that started with (his) short film, “Elephants never forget” and that will end with (his) next film, ‘The Box,’ that will begin shooting in Mexico in 2016.” All three films “deal with the issue of paternity in South America,” explained Vigas.

Panahi said “From Afar” has sold to all major territories in Europe and parts of Asia. The company is in negotiation with other distributors and will start to negotiate offers on Latin America after Ventana Sur.

“The only obstacle is the gay subject matter in some countries such as the Middle-East or Asia,” added Panahi.

Deal was done between Hu and Jon Gerrans of Strand Releasing and Hengameh Panahi of Celluloid Dreams.

Pic is slated for a late spring release.