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Berlin-based sales agent M-Appeal, specialists in independent arthouse fare, has acquired world sales rights on Armando Capó’s anticipated fiction feature debut, “August,” world premiering in the Discovery sidebar at Toronto Intl. Film Festival before heading to San Sebastian’s Horizontes Latinos for its European Premiere.

The Cuban-Costa Rican-French co-production has received plenty of festival attention through its development and production stages. The screenplay was pitched at Cannes’ La Fabrique du Cinema du Monde and San Sebastian’s Co-Production Forum, winning best project before returning in 2017 to participate in Films inn Progress, the festival’s works in progress section.

The project also pitched at the Festival Internacional del Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano de la Habana 2015 before winning the Global Filmmaking Award at Sundance and participating in the Guadalajara co-Production Meeting the following year.

Set on the last day of school of 1994, a time of upheaval in Cuba after the dissolution of the USSR, a group of restless teenagers prepare to set off on their holidays. In the careless throes of youth, Carlos cares about little more than spending time with his friends and falling in love for the first time.

Slowly, he sees friends, family and neighbors leaving as opportunities dry up in their community and food becomes scarce. As a last resource, thousands of Cubans are attempting to raft from their homeland into the United States hoping to find life’s necessities. Carlos sees friendships ended for good, his family torn apart and his world turned upside down, not knowing if he will ever see those who leave again, or if they will even survive the trip.

The film’s long gestation process was made all the more difficult by the fact it was being developed from within Cuba, while it was produced from off the island at Costa Rica’s La Feria Producciones. D’Safia Producciones in Cuba and Paraiso Production in France co-produced.

“Shooting was the first time in all those years we all, producers and director, were in the same country. We put together a crew of Costa Ricans and Cubans and it was a great experience; very challenging but it all worked out,” said La Feria Producciones producer Marcela Esquivel Jiménez.

Editing was then handled between studios in Costa Rica, London and Cuba with final post-production handled in France.

“‘August’ is ready to keep traveling and growing and so are we,” Esquivel went on. “We have been lucky to make this film with great people who, in spite of the difficulties, have always put making this film and believing in it before any difference or frustration. This is a film in which we have invested years of our lives, and we are so proud to share it with the world now.”

“Inspired by his own youth, Armando makes us understand the national trauma that this mass exodus meant for Cuba,” said Maren Kroymann, M-Appeal CEO. “Many men left their families behind, creating a generation that grew up without fathers. Current political and economic developments make the film even more relevant for international audiences today, with the U.S. declaring economic war on Cuba. History seems to be repeating itself for Cubans.”

“August” is M-Appeal’s third Cuban title, following 2015’s “The Project of the Century” from Carlos M. Quintela, written by “August” screenwriter Abel Arcos. The company carefully curates a catalog of 8-10 films a year composed of arthouse and festival films which have strong international market potential.