Barcelona-based studio Filmax has acquired international sales rights to Avelina Prat’s feature-debut “Vasil,” which is currently in pre-production. Filmax also handles Spanish distribution.

“Vasil” is produced by Barcelona-based Distinto Films, which backed Patricia Ferreira’s “The Wild Children,” in co-production with Bulgaria’s Activist 38, which made Mina Mileva and Vesela Kazakova’s “Cat in the Wall.”

“This new Distinto Films’ project tackles very contemporary European issues , with a very personal and deep insight into the story’s characters,” said Filmax CEO Carlos Fernández.

Inspired by the director’s own experiences, the feature follows Vasil, a chess and bridge champion arriving in Spain from Bulgaria. He meets Maureen, an Irish woman who decides to help him, Yorgos, a Greek who gives him work; and Alfredo, who offers his sofa as a temporary home.

Principal photography is scheduled from May in Valencia and Barcelona.

Ivan Barnev, a best actor winner at the Bulgarian Film Academy Awards for Georgi Djulgerov’s Lady Zee,” will play Vasil.

Penned by Prat with the assistance of well-known Spanish script-editor Ana Sanz-Magallón, “Vasil”’ script was selected by the Script Station at Berlinale Talents and was mentored by Spanish director Isabel Coixet at the Spanish Society of Authors and Publishers (SGAE) writing labs.

“It’s a subtle, quiet story, told with a lot of affection for the characters, and especially with a permanent note of strangeness, perplexity and a certain humor. Surreal  and odd situations are experienced as the most natural in the world,” Prat said.

Prat’ shorts include “The Light Factory,” “The Red Coat” and “ “3/105,” which played at Venice Horizons, co-directed with Diego Opazo.

“It’s a very European movie, focusing on immigration in Spain and plurality in contemporary Europe, but it essentially explores acceptance and rejection, and difficulty in understanding others and does so with great sensitivity and delicacy,” claimed producer Miriam Porté at Distinto Films.

“Vasil’s” editor will be Ana Pfaff (Clara Roquet’s “Libertad,” Carla Simón’s “Summer 1993”), with cinematography by Santiago Racaj (“Summer 1993,” Lluis Miñarro’s “Love Me Not”).

Barcelona-based Distinto Films specializes in discovering and backing female talent. Ferreira’s “The Wild Children” won best film and screenplay at 2012’s 15th Malaga Spanish Film Festival, Spain’s biggest national cinema showcase. Further productions include Neus Ballús’ “The Odd Job Men” —now in post,– and Irene Moray’s short “Suc de Síndria,” nominated for 2019 best European short in the upcoming EFA awards.