Alliance Atlantis Pictures International has acquired international rights excluding Italy to Majid Majidi's Iranian drama Baran which played in the New York Film Festival this week.

Miramax Films has rights in North America and Italy, and Alliance Atlantis will release the film through its ongoing distribution agreement in Canada.

Baran, which won the Grand Prize at the 2001 Montreal Film Festival (Majidi's third film to do so), is the story of a cocky Iranian teenager who is replaced by an illegally hired Afghan worker and consequently plays a series of nasty tricks on the immigrant.

Majidi's previous two films - The Children Of Heaven and Color Of Paradise - were substantial arthouse hits in the US. The former, to which Miramax Films had worldwide rights, grossed $0.93m in 1999 and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The latter, handled by Sony Pictures Classics, almost doubled that to take $1.8m in 2000.

The deal was negotiated by Alliance Atlantis Pictures International director of sales Ariel Veneziano. Veneziano and company president Mark Horowitz will be screening the film for buyers at London and MIFED.

"Majidi is a world class director and his latest feature was brought to my attention by Ariel Veneziano, our Director of Sales, when he attended its premiere at the Montreal Film Festival," said Horowitz. "Ariel was very passionate about the film and his extensive experience with foreign-language features made me confident that this acquisition will be a great success for us. It has already generated great interest from the international buyers."