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Paris-based Luxbox has pounced on international rights to “20,000 Species of Bees,” one of Spain’s most anticipated feature debuts in 2023. 

Distributor of “Holy Spider” and San Sebastian winner “The Kings of the World,” BTeam Pictures will handle the film’s release in Spain. 

The latest movie in a growing canon of titles from young Spanish directors that have a grounded sense of place while dealing in large universal issues – think Carla Simon’s “Summer 1993” and Berlin Golden Bear winner “Alcarràs,” Alauda Ruiz de Azúa’s “Lullaby” and Elena López Riera “The Water” – “20,000 Species of Bees” marks the first feature by Basque Country-based Estibaliz Urresola Solaguren whose short, “Cuerdas,” won a Cannes Critics’ Week Rails d’Or plaudit in May and was a Forqué Award best short winner this December in Spain. 

It turns on an eight-year-old girl who battles with the fact that people keep addressing her in confusing ways. During a summer in the Basque Country among the beehives, she explores her identity alongside the women of her family, who at the same time reflect on their own lives and desires.

As with “Cuerdas,” film takes in diverse points of view with the parents’ evolving take on their daughter’s identity key to her happiness.

The beehives emerge as a powerful symbol of inter-dependence and a predominantly female environment in a film which charms with its unfussy naturalism while building into what Urresola has called a “hymn to diversity in ways of being and feeling as a woman.”

“20,000 Species of Bees” joins Luxbox’s lengthening list of high profile early feature pick-ups from Latin America and now Spain. They include Nathalie Alvarez Mesén’s “Clara Sola” Marcelo Martinessi’s “The Heiresses” and Benjamín Naishtat’s “Rojo.”

“It has been a great joy that Luxbox entered our beehive. It is a great honor for me to be able to be part with my debut film of a catalog like theirs, full of inspiring directors and interesting titles,” Urresola told Variety.   

She added: “I could not imagine a better traveling companion for the flight that our 20,000 species of bees are now undertaking. I’m sure we will learn a lot from their vision and work and I’m looking forward to start working together knowing how carefully they take care of the films they have chosen.”

Produced by a prestige partnership of Basque Country-based Gariza Films, behind  “Cuerdas” and Lara Izagirre’s “Nora,” and Inicia Films, producer of “Summer 1993” and Pilar Palomero’s San Sebastian hit “La Maternal,” “20,000 Species of Bees” was put through the Berlinale Co-production Market and Les Ateliers d’Angers Festival Premiers Plans and, in Spain, Basque development program Noka and the Madrid Film School’s The Screen Incubator. In 2022, Urresola was chosen as one of Variety’s 10 Spanish directors to track

“We met Fiorella from Luxbox in the middle of the pandemic when the project was still in the stage of writing,” said Valérie Delpierre at Inicia Films and Lara Izagirre at Gariza Films.

“Immediately we felt that we could work well with her team, that our film and our director’s vision matched with the line of the films they had previously represented and that we admired,”“I met the team of ‘Bees’ in 2020! Their vision really impressed me. It has been a pleasure to follow the evolution of this project and to finally discover a beautiful, unique and important film,” Luxbox’s Fiorella Moretti added. “Through her naturalistic mise en scène, Estibaliz has succeeded in bringing us to the universe of this eight-year-old girl. It is a real honor for us to be on board so as to make the film travel far.”