Sony Pictures Classics (SPC) has picked up North American rightsfrom Lenfilm to Andrei Kravchuk's feature directorial debut and Russian 2006 submissionfor the foreign language Oscar The Italian.

Set in 1942, The Italian charts a five-year-old orphan's efforts to avoid adoption byan Italian family as he tries in vain to locate his real mother.

Andrei Romanov wrote the screenplay and the picture stars Kolia Spiridonov,Maria Kuznetsova, Nikolai Reutov and Yuri Itskov.

"This is a movie we have been pursuing for some time,"SPC's Michael Barker, Tom Bernard and Dylan Leiner said in a joint statement."It is one of those endearing pictures that has the potential to capturethe hearts and minds of movie goers of all ages."

"Lenfilmis happy to be working on The Italian with Sony Pictures Classics, who proved to be a respectable and highlyexperienced company in the field of film distribution," Lenfilm's GeorgeMautkin added. "They are a perfect home for this project."

Lenfilm produced with TulosCinema and the support of theFederal Agency of culture and cinematography of Russia.

SPC's Barker,Bernard and Leiner negotiated the deal with Lenfilm.