Strand Releasing has picked up all US rights to Andre Techine's AIDS drama The Witnesses (Les Temoins) from UGC International and has set a late autumn nationwide release.

Strand co-president Jon Gerrans and UGC's Eva Diederix negotiated the deal on the film, which centres on a group of friends and lovers in Paris in 1984 as they confront the outbreak of AIDS.

Michel Blanc, Emmanuelle Beart and Sami Bouajila star. The Witnesses received its international premiere in competition at Berlin in February and has been set for a North American premiere at Frameline's 31st San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival on Jun 14.

'We're thrilled to be working on another Techine film,' Gerrans said. 'He's one of the most vital film-makers working today.' Strand previously distributed Techine's Wild Reeds in 1994.

The Witnesses has already sold to the Benelux (Lumiere), Spain (Vertigo), Greece (Cinemax), Italy (Rai), Portugal (Atalanta), Switzerland (JMH), Turkey (Ans International), Bulgaria (Diema), the former Yugoslavia (Provision), Romania (New Films International), Taiwan (Flash Forward), Thailand (BJ Pics), Argentina (Telexcel), Brazil (Estacao), and Venezuela (Blanco Y Travieso).