UK sales company The Works is holding back on a US sale on Bend It Like Beckham until after its UK theatrical debut, following a rapturously-received advance screening in London.

UK distributor Helkon SK is now looking at releasing Gurinder Chadha's low-budget drama comedy on a hefty 430 prints in April. The filmmakers aim to secure a Cannes slot, possibly following in Billy Elliot's ballet steps into the Directors Fortnight.

Producer Deepak Nayar first decided to wait the day after a screening in Los Angeles when he had to send the print straight back to the UK to show the film to David Beckham. The football star may sign up for a cameo in the film.

"A lot of people got pissed off at me," Nayar said. "We did not have another print to show anybody."

A subsequent screening in London led to the film's feel-good factor even being compared to The Full Monty.

While some US buyers are chasing the film, others have questioned how well the film's soccer and racial themes will translate across the Atlantic - it revolves around two football mad girls, one from a white family, one from an Indian family.

But Nayar has been here before: he was initially offered $50,000 for all US rights to Wim Wenders' Buena Vista Social Club, which he produced and partly paid for himself. He held out for a deal with Artisan worth around $250,000.