Maria Full Of Grace, the Spanish-language story about female drug 'mules', was one of Berlin chief Dieter Kosslick's first selection forcompetition and has proved a strong draw for buyers.

Buoyed by Berlin andSundance successes, HBO Films London, its sales house, has now closed deals on Maria with ARP for France, Icon for the UK, Istituto Lucefor Italy, Movie Eye the new Japanese distributor staffed by former Gaga executives,Golem for Spain, Scanbox for Scandinavia, Ascot Elite for Switzerland, ShaniFilms for Israel, Gussi for Mexico and Prooptiki for Greece, Romania, Bulgariaand ex-Yugoslavia.

"We are exactly where wewanted to be at this stage," said HBO sales chief Penny Wolf. "There is nomiddle ground on this film. People either like it a lot or they really don't.But we are fortunate to be selling a really strong package as we know that thedirector [Joshua Marston] and star [Catalina Sandino Moreno] will go into allterritories to support the picture."

Fine Line, which has adistribution arrangement with HBO, is expected to release the film in July. "IItaly will release the film as soon as they can. France, Italy and Spain don'twant to wait for the US distribution cycle," said Wolf.

Golem also has Spanishrights to HBO's Real Women Have Curves and is likely to release that film in the autumn after the filmpossibly screens in a special sidebar in San Sebastian.

HBO Films London, which hadan extraordinary first year as a stand-alone sales outfit, handling Sundancewinner American Splendor andCannes winner Elephant, is nowheading for an important Cannes. There it will unwrap Fred Schepisi's EmpireFalls, Phyllis Nagy's AnetteBening-Ben Kinglsey vehicle Mrs Harris, Lucretia Martel's Holy Girl and Stephen Hopkins' The Life And Death Of Peter Sellers.