SPC picks up Israel's 'Waltz With Bashir'

Docu is distributor's fourth move in recent days

Sony Pictures Classics is continuing its torrid pace of Cannes acquisitions, picking up North American rights and select Latin American rights to the animated Israeli docu "Waltz With Bashir" as the fest closed.

After a quiet start to the fest, the buy was the fourth initiative for the New York-based specialty label over a span of just a few days.

Since Thursday, SPC also picked up North American rights to Norwegian Bent Hamer's "O'Horten" and the Belgian Dardenne brothers' "Lorna's Silence" and entered into final negotiations for N.A. rights to James Toback's boxing docu "Tyson."

Ari Folman's autobigraphical "Bashir" follows the director as he tries to recover blacked-out memories of his experiences fighting in the 1982 Israel-Lebanon war. The pic employs a form of hand-drawn animation that gives the proceedings a dreamlike, otherworldly feel.

The movie's title comes from a key moment when a soldier in Folman's platoon enters a kind of fugue state, firing his gun while dancing in the street in front of a billboard of former Lebanese prime minister Bashir Gemavel.

The pickup solidifies SPC's reputation as a company handling prestige animated films; over the past few years it has released animated titles such as the political memoir "Persepolis" and French fable "The Triplets of Belleville."

It also bolsters SPC's roster of 2008 awards bait. The company has won the foreign-language film Oscar the past two years, though it of course remains to be seen whether "Bashir" will be ruled eligible for the prize or is even chosen by Israel as its official Oscar selection.

Overall, the festival was a boon for distributors such as SPC and IFC, while a number of bigger specialty divisions remained far quieter.
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