Roadside Attractions, IFC snap up films


CANNES -- As the Festival de Cannes heads into the home stretch, Roadside Attractions picked up all U.S. rights to the Lebanese women's drama "Caramel," and IFC Entertainment's day-and-date First Take scored a double play, picking up the much-discussed Romanian abortion drama "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" and the whimsical "Flight of the Red Balloon."

Director/star Nadine Labaki's Arabic language "Caramel," which played in the Directors' Fortnight on Sunday, looks at five women who work in a contemporary Beirut beauty salon. The film follows the Christian and Muslim women's romantic entanglements, from an engaged woman looking to get surgery to restore her virginity to a closeted lesbian.

In a tight contest between Roadside and IFC, Roadside closed the low-six-figure deal at around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. The company hopes the film will be the official Lebanese foreign-language feature Oscar entry and plans an early 2008 release. The deal was negotiated by Roadside co-president Howard Cohen with Raphael Berdugo of Roissy Films representing the filmmakers.

In two other late-breaking Tuesday afternoon deals, IFC landed U.S. rights to one of the most discussed films of the fest, Cristian Mungiu's Romanian drama "4 Months." Set during the final days of communism Romania, the film looks at the harsh journey of two young women who try to end an unwanted pregnancy. "4 Months," In Competition at Cannes, was produced by Oleg Mutu and Mungiu, and executive produced by Florentina Onea.

IFC Films vp acquisitions Arianna Bocco negotiated the deal with Carole Baraton from Wild Bunch.

The other film set to premiere simultaneously in theaters and via video-on-demand on IFC First Take is Chinese director Hou Hsiao-Hsien's French film "Balloon." IFC nabbed North American rights to the story of a young boy and his baby-sitter who share the same fantasy world, in which a red balloon trails them around Paris.

Oscar winner Juliette Binoche and Simon Iteanu star in the feature, which is screening in Un Certain Regard and was produced by Francois Margolin and Kristina Larsen. IFC's Bocco negotiated the deal with Nicolas Brigaud-Robert from Films Distribution.