US distributor Roxie Releasing picked up US rights for Roland Suso Richter's The Tunnel from Beta Cinema at this week's Rotterdam Film Festival.

Having monitored the film's success at festivals in Montreal (where it won the audience award), Vancouver (placed second in audience choice after Amelie) and the Toronto Film Festival's 'Talk Cinema Series', Roxie and the theatrical arm of KirchMedia's BetaFilm closed the deal in Rotterdam.

"All of us are thrilled to be releasing Roland Suso Richter's epic story of people risking their lives so that others may enjoy what we call 'freedom' ", stated Bill Banning, president of Roxie Releasing. Roxie plans to release The Tunnel this year in at least 15 ADI (Area of Dominant Influence) markets, starting with New York and Los Angeles.

The Tunnel, which is based on the true story of a daring underground escape from East to West Berlin after the building of the Berlin Wall, was originally produced by Berlin-based production outfit teamWorx as a TV two-parter for private German broadcaster SAT.1. It has since been sold by Beta Cinema, in an edited theatrical version, to 26 territories including France, Italy, Spain, Scandinavia, French-speaking Canada and Japan.

Meanwhile, next week's European Film Market in Berlin will see Beta Cinema presenting the international market premieres of last year's German runaway blockbuster Der Schuh Des Manitu and Sven Taddicken's award-winning feature debut Getting My Brother Laid (Mein Bruder Der Vampir) in the "German Cinema" sidebar.