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Films Boutique has scored strong first-phase sales with top arthouse distributors around the globe on Maryam Touzani’s female friendship drama “Adam” – confirming the market appeal of a title which has been selected as Morocco’s entry for the newly-named Academy Award for best international feature film.

The deals news comes on the eve of “Adam’s” first screening in the Contemporary World Cinema section of the Toronto Film Festival.

Of major territories, Films Boutique has closed Japan (Longride), Spain (Karma Films), Italy (Movies Inspired), Australia (Sharmill), Sweden (Fokets Bio), Brazil (Arteplex) and Argentina, Chile and Uruguay (Mirada).

Switzerland (Filmcoopi), the Czech Republic (Artcam) and Bulgaria (Art Fest) are also licensed. As already announced, Ad Vitam, a major force in Cannes Festival buys, and Cinéart, another mainstay of Europe’s arthouse business, will distribute “Adam” in France and Benelux respectively.

“Adam” has raised interest among North American, U.K. and German buyers, said Films Boutique CEO Jean-Christophe Simon.

Touzani’s feature debut, “Adam” toplines Lubna Azabal (“Incendies,” “Tel Aviv on Fire”). A women’s tale of support, rebirth and oppression, it turns on the chance but life-changing and enhancing encounter in Casablanca’s Medina between Samia, a heavily pregnant, single young woman down from the countryside and Abla, a widow with a vivacious eight-year-old daughter who has set up a bakery in her home to make ends meet.

Abla takes Samia in; Samia introduces Abla to some secrets of traditional Moroccan pastries, taught to her by her grandmother, such as rziza – which sells like hot cakes in the Medina.

It is the inner journey of both women, however, which drives the film’s narrative.

“The pressure a woman such as Samia has to withstand is hardly bearable; the judgment inflicted on her and on her child is terrible. It is not easy to be courageous in such a situation, because the battle is often lost in advance,” Touzani told Variety before Cannes, noting that “however, there are women that put up a fight, that manage to find the courage to defy society. I think that is admirable.”

Touzani previously starred in, and co-wrote, Nabil Ayouch’s 2017 hit “Razzia.” Written by Touzani with the collaboration of Nabil Ayouch, “Adam” is produced by Ayouch and co-produced by Amine Benjelloun and Patrick Quinet for Ayouch’s Casablanca and Paris-based labels Ali N’ Productions and Les Films du Nouveau Monde, with Artémis Productions.

The film received a standing ovation on its world premiere in the Cannes Festival’s major Un Certain Regard sidebar and won an Audience Award at the Angoulême French Film Festival in August.

“Reactions from distributors and audiences have really been fantastic for ‘Adam,” said Simon.

He added: “The film is a beautifully crafted first feature with a strong appeal to the market as the film is also a crowd-pleasing female empowerment story taking place in a bakery.”