PARIS - In a multi-territory deal which reps a large vote of confidence - and passion - for a first feature, James Velaise's Paris-based Pretty Pictures has closed not only France - its usual home territory - but also Germany, Benelux and Switzerland on Josef Kubota Wladyka's Tribeca winner "Manos Sucias."
A pioneering U.S.-Colombia production exec-produced by Spike Lee - and produced by Elena Greenlee and Marcia Nunes, Mirlanda Torres Zapata and Carolina Caicedo- "Manos Sucias" screened at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival where it won Best New Narrative Director Award and placed second in the Heineken Audience Award.
Velaise screened the film at Tribeca and "immediately fell madly in love with it," he said.
"It came totally out of the blue, we were mesmerized by the filmmaking. As a first-time film 'Manos Sucias' is outstanding, as good as anything we've seen coming out of Latin America in a long time," said Valaise.
"Manos Sucias" follows two estranged brothers, Afro-Colombian fishermen, who embark in a fishing boat from Buenaventura, Colombia's biggest Pacific Coast port and its violent drug trade emporium. Their mission: to tow underwater a "narco-torpedo" packed with 100 kilos of cocaine to Panama.
Shot on location in Colombia, using local actors who speak the patois of Buenaventura, "Manos sucias" reflects years of painstaking research by Kubota Wladyka who went to live in the region.
"What is fascinating is that the filmmaker spent five years in Buenaventura learning what was going on there and building up the trust of people. The average filmmaker would never take the time to do that. You feel that in the film: There a sense of genuineness which you don't get in 99% of indie films today," said Valaise.
At the same time, "Manos Sucias" is "incredibly tight: On paper, it has some breakout potential to it, because it is a thriller, " he added.
Pretty Pictures will now seek to sell the film on to distributors in the other three territories, all significant for arthouse films. Valaise reasons that companies exist in these territories that often buy the same films as Pretty Pictures, so share similar tastes.
In another deal on "Manos Sucias," Madrid-based 6 Sales has acquired sales rights to the thriller in the run-up to Cannes where it will be screening the picture.
WME Global's Christine D'Souza and Mark Anker are handling "Manos Sucias'" sale to the U.S.
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