EXCLUSIVE: Destin Cretton’s award-winning picture stars Brie Larson as a care-worker in a foster care facility.

Paris-based Memento Films International (MFI) has acquired international rights for Destin Cretton’s award-winning feature Short Term 12 set against the backdrop of a juvenile care centre.

The US film was a breakout picture at the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas last month, winning both the Grand Jury Prize in the Narrative Feature Competition and the Audience Award.

Short Term 12 immediately grabbed us emotionally,” said MFI head of sales and acquisitions Tanja Meissner.

“From the powerful performances to Cretton’s nuanced directorial touch, we knew at once we had discovered a true gem. We couldn’t be more excited to introduce international buyers and festivals to the second work of this incredibly gifted young director.”

Brie Larson, previously seen in supporting roles in 21 Jump Street and Don Juan’s Addiction, plays a 20-something staff member at a children’s home opposite John Gallagher Jr. as her co-worker and boyfriend. Her work with abused youngsters churns up memories of her own troubled past.

The picture was produced by Maren Olson and Asher Goldstein of Traction Media, Joshua Astrachan of Animal Kingdom and independent producer Ron Najor.

Goldstein and Najor produced Cretton’s first feature I Am Not A Hipster, about a young singer-songwriter in San Diego’s indie music scene, which screened at Sundance in 2012.

Frederick W. Green, Douglas Stone, and David Kaplan served as executive producers on the picture. Amanda Johnson-Zetterstrom was co-producer. 

Animal Kingdom financed the film. The picture was also supported by the San Francisco Film Society/Kenneth Rainin Foundation.

“The incredible team at Memento has championed some of my favourite movies of the past decade. I couldn’t be happier to have them representing our story to the world,” said Cretton.

MFI’s Meissner, Emilie Georges, and Nicholas Shumaker negotiated the deal with David Kaplan and Traction on behalf of the producers.

As previously, Cinedigm outbid fierce competition in Austin for rights to North America and Latin America, and will release the film theatrically towards the end of the summer.

Short Term 12 is based on a short film for which won Cretton a Short Filmmaking Award at Sundance in 2009.

The feature screenplay of Short Term 12 was among five works to receive The Academy of Motion Pictures’ coveted Nicholl Fellowship in 2010.