Russian director Andrei Zvyagintsev's debut feature The Return has struck two international sales in advance of its competition screening in this year's Venice International Film Festival.

All rights for the film have already been sold to distributor Lucky Red for Italy and to Frenetic for Switzerland. Moscow based international sales agents Intercinema Arts Agency is also weighing up two different offers for the film from Holland.

"We have never seen this kind of interest in a Russian film by an unknown director in the eleven years that we have been selling Russian films on the international market," said Raisa Fomina, the agency's general director. "Of course, we have never had a film in competition in Venice before, and that is very important, but it goes beyond that, this is an extraordinary film."

Produced by Renfilm and shot last year in Russia's far north, the film is a simple but powerful story of two teenage Russian boys whose father returns home suddenly after being absent for 12 years. The father takes the boys on a holiday on remote island on a lake in the north of Russia that turns into a test of manhood and coming of age that takes on almost mythic proportions.

The screenplay was written by Vladimir Moiseenko and Alexander Novototsky and it was produced by Dmitry Lesnevsky.