Fox Searchlighthas picked up US rights to Water, the final instalment in Deepa Mehta's elemental trilogy thatwill open the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept 8.

Set in 1930sIndia against the backdrop of Mahatma Gandhi's rise to power, Water charts the fallout on a temple communitywhen a group of widows arrives. Lisa Ray, Seema Biswas, Bollywood superstarJohn Abraham and Sri Lankan child newcomer Sarala star.

David Hamilton,who previously collaborated with Mehta on Fire, Earth, and Bollywood/Hollywood, produced the saga. Doug Mankoff of EchoLake Productions and Mark Burton of Accomplice Films served as executiveproducers.

David HamiltonProductions, Echo Lake Productions and Telefilm Canada co-financed the project.Celluloid Dreams is handling worldwide sales.

Water will be released in Canada throughMongrel Media on Nov 4. The US release date will be announced in due course.

InterweavingMehta's typically provocative commentary on India's political, social andromantic evolution, Water has been a controversial undertaking.

Production wasshut down in India in 2000 after fundamentalist Hindus rioted in protest overthe subject matter and the award-winning filmmaker received death threats.

The shoot was eventually revived in Sri Lanka under anassumed name and strict secrecy.

"To make Water was akin to climbing Everest a hardjourney. But where to go from there'" Mehta said. "Having Fox Searchlightdistribute the film in the US is like finding a stairway to Heaven. I couldn'tbe more pleased."

Fox Searchlightexecutive vice president Joseph De Marco and senior vice president ofacquisitions Tony Safford negotiated the deal with John Sloss of Cinetic Mediaand Hengameh Panahi of Celluloid Dreams.