Buying heated up in the weekend sun at Cannes as an acquisitive Miramax Films put down $4m for North and South American, UK and Italian rights to Phillip Noyce's aboriginal period drama Rabbit Proof Fence.

Fox Searchlight Pictures also used the festival to unveil its acquistion of worldwide rights to Charles Herman-Wurmfeld 's comedy Kissing Jessica Stein, which won a special jury award and audience award at the recent Los Angeles Film Festival.

US acquisitions executives were also circling UK-based The Sales Co's competition title No Man's Land, which looks bound to close a US deal at Cannes.

Rabbit Proof Fence, which is expected to go to Venice, has already gone to a brace of overseas markets including Bac in France, Odeon for Germany and Sandrews Metronome for Scandinavia. Marking Australian-born Noyce's first project in his home country after 12 years in the US, the film was the first pick-up for Australia's recently-formed Ocean Pictures, which will distribute it locally with REP.

The Miramax deal re-unites the Weinstein powerhouse with Jeremy Thomas, who executive produced Rabbit Proof Fence for his sales banner HanWay and partnered with Miramax on titles such as Little Buddha. "I'm especially pleased that Miramax is involved with Phillip Noyce's next two movies," said Miramax co-chief Harvey Weinstein, adding that Noyce's The Quiet American wraps next week.

Starring Kenneth Branagh, Rabbit Proof Fence tells the true story of three aboriginal girls taken from their families to work as servants under official government policy during the 30s. "This is an exceptional film, and Phillip and I are looking forward to Miramax maximising its potential in these important territories," said Thomas.