Fine Line Features has acquired North American and allEnglish-speaking territory rights from Spain's Sogepaq to Out To Sea (Mar Adentro), Alejandro Amenabar's eagerly awaitedfollow-up to The Othersthat stars Javier Bardem as real-life euthanasia campaigner Ramon Sampedro.

The company plans aplatform release in the US before the end of the year and is already talking upthe picture's awards season prospects. A Toronto slot would seem to be the obviouschoice for a North American festival launch after the film's anticipated Veniceworld premiere, although Fine Line sources would not speculate.

Bardem plays Sampedro, a longtime advocate of the right to diewith dignity after an accident left him paralysed below the neck and bedriddenfor 29 of his 55 years.

The story focuses on the profound effect Sampedro had on the livesof two women - the lawyer who support his cause and a neighbour who tries toconvince the Spaniard that life is worth living. Belen Rueda and Lola Duenasalso star.

"Alejandro Amenabar is an extraordinarily talented director and OutTo Sea is a work ofgreat power, emotion and humanity," New Line's production chief Toby Emmerichsaid in a statement.

"We are thrilled to be in business with Alejandro and to welcomeJavier Bardem back to the Fine Line family." The company previously distributedJulian Schnabel's Before Night Falls, which earned Bardem a best actor Academy Award nominationin 2001.

"Alejandro and everyone at Sogecine is honored by the passion thatFine Line has already displayed for the film and we are confident that theywill bring the film to the broadest possible audience," Fernando Bovaira, OutTo Sea producer andgeneral manager of Sogecine and Sogepaq added.

Fine Line moved in on the picture after a New York screening. FineLine executive vice president of marketing Marian Koltai-Levine, New Line'ssenior vice president of acquisitions and production Guy Stodel, vice presidentof European Acquisitions Alexandra Rossi, Fine Line's director of acquisitionsand production Merideth Finn, and senior vice president of business affairsCarolyn Blackwood negotiated the deal on behalf of Fine Line.

Simon de Santiago, deputydirector of distribution for Sogepaq, negotiated on behalf of productioncompanies Sogecine and Amenabar's Himenoptero with Maxmedia president SunminPark, Maxmedia director of production Jeffrey Winter, and Elliot Kleinberg.

Amenabar directed, co-wrote, edited and scored Out To Sea, and previously directed the mysteries TheOthers and Open YourEyes (Abre Los Ojos), which was remade by Cameron Crowe as VanillaSky.

Out To Sea will be released by Sogepaq in Spain inSeptember.