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New York-based Film Movement has acquired North American rights to Italian director Laura Luchetti’s “Twin Flower,” a dark tale of two teen runaways that launched last year from Toronto’s Discovery section and has since screened at a number of festivals, including London, Busan and Seattle.

The film was sold to Film Movement by Italy’s Fandango Sales, headed by Raffaella Di Giulio.

Set in Sardinia, Luchetti’s standout sophomore work pairs two 16-year-olds: Anna, whose father reluctantly works for an immigrants trafficker, and Basim who has arrived illegally on the Italian island from the Ivory Coast. They meet and hit the road together across Sardinia’s sun-scorched countryside, escaping from a menacing pursuer.

“With this timely drama, Laura Luchetti not only solidifies her reputation as one of the top Italian filmmakers to watch, but also as a director who can elicit incredibly moving, naturalistic performances from young acting talent,” Film Movement president Michael Rosenberg said in a statement.

“Because of this, we’re looking forward to having North American audiences fall in love with Anastasyia Bogach [who plays Anna] and Kalill Kone [who plays Basim] just as their characters do on screen,” he added.

The plan is for a small theatrical release via Film Movement in the U.S., a rare feat for an Italian indie pic.

In an interview with Variety, Luchetti spoke about her co-protagonists, whom she chose after extensive street casting in Rome and in Sardinia. Luchetti and her casting agent did lots of screen tests in schools and refugee centers.

“In talking to Anastasya I realized that, just like Basim, she too is a migrant,” the director said. “Her family came from the Ukraine when she was 4. So it’s in a way the same journey….They are both survivors and this makes them different and gave them added emotional depth on screen.”

Luchetti added that both she and her non-professional leads “worked hard, because I had to gain their trust and they had to gain mine.” She also noted that with Kone, there was a language issue since he only speaks French and she does not.

The film has sparse dialogue because Anna’s trauma has turned her mute.

Produced by Giuseppe Gallo’s Picture Show in association with Donkadillo and in collaboration with Rai Cinema “Twin Flower” is currently on release in Italian cinemas via Fandango Distribuzione.

The screenplay is by Luchetti. The director of photography is Spain’s Ferran Paredes Rubio (“Indivisible”). Paola Freddi (“Hannah”) handled the editing. Francesco Cerasi composed the score. Luchetti praised their work as being instrumental to the film’s success.

She also thanked former Toronto CEO Piers Handling for having “really changed the life of this film by taking it under his wing.”

Fandango Sales has sold the film to China (Beijing Hualu Newmedia), Australia and New Zealand (Palace), France (Paris Black Films), and Switzerland (Morandini Film Distribution).