Empire Pictures has picked up Paolo Virzi's coming-of-age story Caterina In The Big City (Caterina Va In Citta) and plans a US release on April 8 in New York and Los Angeles followed by a nationwide arthouse rollout.

The picture, which was a sizeable hit in Italy when it opened in 2003, stars newcomer Alice Teghil as a 15-year-old country girl who arrives at a private school in Rome.

Sergio Castellito and Margherita Buy, who won the 2004 David di Donatello award for best supporting actress, star as Caterina's troubled parents.

Empire Pictures executive vice president Edward Arentz brokered the deal with Sesto Cifola of Rai Trade.

Empire's recent releases include Yogi Yamada's Japanese best foreign language Oscar nominee The Twilight Samurai and Michelle Deville's post-second world war drama Almost Peaceful.

Upcoming releases slated for spring include Antoine de Caunes' Monsieur N and Sijie Dai's romantic comedy Balzac And The Little Seamstress.