Sony Pictures Classics (SPC) has bought North American rights to Secret Ballot (Raye Makhfi), the Iranian film written and directed by Babak Payami which won the Best Director award at the Venice Film Festival on Saturday.

SPC acquired the title from Celluloid Dreams, the prolific French sales company which has also closed deals on the film with Istituto Luce in Italy, Artificial Eye in the UK, Alta Films in Spain, Imovision in Brasil and Filmcooperative in Switzerland.

Secret Ballot is the story of a wooden ballot box dropped from the sky during an election. Produced by Payami and former Locarno Film Festival head Marco Muller (an executive producer on Cannes favourite No Man's Land), the comic film is Payami's second feature after One More Day in 2000.

Meanwhile Celluloid Dreams is scoring similar across-the-board sales with its dramatic title L'Emploi Du Temps (Time Out) directed by Laurent Cantet which won the Golden Lion in Venice's new Cinema of the Present section.

Enjoying a warm reception at Toronto, Celluloid Dreams has already sold L'Emploi Du Temps to Seville Pictures in Canada, Ovler Film in Argentina, Cinelibre in Belgium, A-Film in The Netherlands, Artificial Eye in the UK, Mikado Film in Italy, Agora Film in Switzerland, Polyfilm in Austria and Shani Film in Israel.

A US sale is pending.