First Look Pictures hasacquired North American rights to Vladimir Michalek's Czech drama AutumnSpring, which recently screened atthe 2002 Toronto and Montreal film festivals. The deal was negotiated betweenMJ Peckos, president of First Look, with Neil Friedman of MenemshaEntertainment with a price tag in the mid-six figure range.

First Look plans to releasethe film in summer 2003, following a similar pattern to its 2001 smash BreadAnd Tulips, the romantic drama fromItaly which grossed over $5m. AutumnSpring stars legendary Czech actorVlastimil Brodsky (Closely Observed Trains, Jacob The Liar) as a 75 year-old man who good-humouredly railsagainst society's stereotypes of the elderly.

The film's popularitywith audiences at both Montreal and Toronto testifies to the growing power ofan older audience demographic (over-40s) which has shot up in the last decade.Some 38% of American adults are 50 or older, according to The Los Angeles Times thisweek, and that figure will grow to 47% by 2020. "Mature audiences are theonly growing segment of the movie-going audience," said Peckosyesterday."Autumn Spring is a celebration of life and a how-to guide to the art ofliving.Young audiences will appreciate it and older audiences will revelin it."

AutumnSpring won four Czech Lion Awardsincluding best lead actor for Brodsky, who died shortly after shooting the film,and best lead actress for Stella Zazvorkova who plays his wife. Brodsky wasrecently honoured with a posthumous lifetime achievement at the Karlovy VaryInternational Film Festival. Friedman, who previously sold worldwide rights toCzech movie Divided We Fall,picked it up out of the 2002 Cleveland International Film Festival. It is alsonominated as best picture at the 2002 European Film Awards.

"This film was hotlycontested for in Toronto. We had many, many offers," saidFriedman."I always want to be with the distributor who is mostpassionate about the film. I have known MJ for many years and I have rarely seenher more enthusiastic about a film.The film is in the best possible handsfor North America. I have tremendous confidence and admiration for MJ and herteam."

Other upcoming releases fromFirst Look include Chris Eyre's Skins this Friday, British ensemble Lawless Heart directed by Neil Hunter and Tom Hunsinger, anddocumentary Fellini: I'm A Born Liar.