HBO Films London has struckits first sales deal on Gus van Sant's Cannes-competition bound film Elephant. All rights in France were sold to mini-major MK2,which can be expected to support its launch at the festival.

The film is related to hisprevious film Gerry in style.Focusing on high-school violence, it was shot without a script, in sequence andwith a single camera. The majority of the cast are school children fromPortland. Among the few recognisable name actors are Matt Malloy who plays ateacher and Timothy Bottoms who plays a father.

HBO Films London is thenewly established film sales arm of the US pay-TV group and is headed by RosaBosch and Penny Wolf. It attends Cannes for the first time with a slate of sixfilms including two in Official Selection, Elephant and Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini'sAmerican Splendor, which won thegrand jury prize at this year's Sundance festival.

The move to launch HBO FilmsLondon comes in a year during which HBO revised its strategy on theatrical distributionboth in the domestic market and internationally. The company's previous policywas that all HBO Films-produced movies would premiere in North America on HBOchannels, and while it has always attempted to sell its films to theatricalbuyers overseas through HBO Enterprises, they in turn have been reluctant tocommit to titles which will never be released in theatres in the domesticmarket.