Focus Features International (FFI) has picked up international rights excluding Spain to Alejandro Amenabar's English-language historical saga Agora starring Rachel Weisz.

Agora takes place in fourth century Egypt as the legendary female astronomer and philosopher Hypatia of Alexandria fights to preserve the Library of Alexandria's collection from civil unrest caused by the rise of Christianity.

Shooting is underway in Malta with Max Minghella, Oscar Isaac, Ashraf Barhom, Michael Lonsdale, Rupert Evans and Homayoun Ershadi rounding out the key cast.

Amenabar wrote the screenplay with his frequent collaborator Mateo Gil and Fernando Bovaira is producing through his Mod Producciones along with Amenabar's Himenoptero, in association with Sogecable. Spain's Telecinco Cinema is co-producing.

FFI sales chief Alison Thompson's Cannes slate includes Fernando Meirelles' festival opener Blindness, Lucrecia Martel's competition entry La Mujer Sin Cabeza (The Headless Woman), Jim Jarmusch's The Limits Of Control and Andrew Fleming's Sundance hit Hamlet 2.

Amenabar's first English-language film was The Others in 2001.