Focus International has closed two key distribution deals on My Life Without Me, the Berlin Competition entry produced by the Almodovar brothers' El Deseo outfit and premiering here today. Sony Pictures Classics has just acquired the film for release in the US and Tobis will distribute in Germany.
The English-language drama is directed by Barcelona-based Isabel Coixet and stars Sarah Polley, Mark Ruffalo, Amanda Plummer, Deborah Harry and Leonor Watling, the Spanish actress who played the comatose ballerina in Pedro Almodovar's Talk To Her (Hable Con Ella).
Coixet, whose directorial credits include 1996's Things I Never Told You, based her script on a short story by Nanci Kincaid that she optioned five years ago called Pretending The Bed Is A Raft.
The $2.5m Spain-Canada co-production was shot last year in Vancouver and follows the story of a young mother of two (Polley) whose trailer life is turned upside down when she discovers she only has a couple of months to live. She musters surprising courage and decides for once to be truthful - to her family and to herself.
The film continues the on-going business ties between Focus, the specialist film division of Universal Pictures that is spearheaded by co-presidents David Linde and James Schamus, and El Deseo's Agustin and Pedro Almodovar.
Focus handled worldwide sales outside France, the UK and Benelux on Talk To Her, and previously handled Latin American sales on Guillermo del Toro's The Devil's Backbone, also an El Deseo co-production.
Moreover, the two deals themselves represent a continuation in those territories of distribution relationships with El Deseo. Sony Pictures Classics enjoyed considerable success with Almodovar's All About My Mother, grossing more than $8m domestically and winning that year's foreign-language Oscar. To date, SPC has also grossed more than $4.5m in North America with Talk To Her.
Berlin-based Tobis - which is now in the control of shareholders Kilian Rebentrost and Pathe after the management bought out StudioCanal's 60% majority holding late last year - has notched up more than $2.5m with Talk To Her in Germany.
"We're terrifically pleased to have extended El Deseo's relationships in these territories on such a heartfelt and emotion film," said Glen Basner, Focus' executive vice president of international sales and distribution.
Previously, Focus had closed a raft of other territories on My Life Without Me, selling the film, among other places, to both Shochiku in Japan and Sandrews in Scandinavia.