Multiple territories choose 'Banishment

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LONDON -- "The Banishment," one of two Russian films In Competition at Cannes, notched up festival market sales to the U.K.'s Artificial Eye, three European territories and two in South America despite a hammering from some critics, sales agent Raisa Fomina said Friday.

Fomina, founder of Moscow's Intercinema XXI Century, said the film -- the second by Andrei Zvyaginstev, whose debut "The Return" won two golden lions at Venice in 2003 -- had found buyers in Switzerland, Brazil, Peru and Scandinavia.

"I closed for more or less the prices I wanted, although in some territories I would have done better but for the critical press from some corners," Fomina said from Cannes, adding, "The press killed almost every film in competition with the exception of Alexander Sukorov's film ('Alexandra')."

Fomina, who also closed a deal with Artificial Eye for Pavel Lungine's "The Island" -- which dominated the top awards at both of Russia's leading national movie showcases earlier this year -- said distributors who picked up "The Banishment" (based on a story by William Saroyan) had been very keen to close deals.

Prior to the Cannes market, the film already had sold to France, the Benelux countries, Singapore, Greece, Turkey, the Balkans, Mexico and Israel, Fomina said.

"The market at Cannes is not only about selling films, it is also about showing films to festivals and I have had a lot of interest in some of my other titles from festival directors for films that include Aleksei Balabanov's latest movie, 'Cargo 200,' " he said.
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