US independent distributorMilestone Films has acquired all North American rights to Polish film TheBig Animal (Duze Zwierze) directed by Jerzy Stuhr. The film was based on ascreenplay by the late Krzysztof Kieslowski and shot in black-and-white byPoland's Pawel Edelman (The Pianist).

Stuhr, aprotégé of Kieslowski, also stars in the film as a bank clerk ina small town who wakes up one morning to find a camel in his front yard. Theanimal provokes jealousy from neighbours and the townspeople become bent onbanishing the beast from their town.

Kieslowski wrote The BigAnimal in the 1970s during theheight of political oppression and social upheaval in Poland; the script wasprotected during the communist regime by the director's friend ElzbietaScotti who returned it to Kieslowski's widow after his death.

Milestone plans to releasethe film theatrically in early 2004 at New York's Anthology Film Archivefollowed by cities in the US and Canada. The New York premiere will besupported by Pawel Potoroczyn of the Polish Cultural Institute.

The deal was negotiated byCindi Rowell, Milestone's director of acquisitions, with Malgorzata Cup,head of sales for Telewizja Polska, and its US representative, ChristopherWojciechowski of CW Entertainment.

Milestone's credits inits 13 years of operation include Takeshi Kitano's Hana Bi and Manoel de Oliveira's I'm GoingHome.