Cologne-based The Match Factory has picked up international sales for Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s Howl, which will be the narrative world premiere on the first night of the Sundance Film Festival.

Starring James Franco, Howl tells the story of the early life of writer Allen Ginsberg as he finds he voice, writes the groundbreaking poem Howl and the landmark obscenity trial that followed. Werc Werk Works production also stars Jon Hamm, David Strathairn, Mary-Louise Parker and Jeff Daniels.

The film is one of three to screen on the first night of Sundance, which runs January 21- 31, instead of one single headliner as part of a new structure for this year’s edition. A film from each of the festival’s three categories - narrative, documentary and short film will be shown that night.

Michael Weber, managing director of The Match Factory, said: “We are extremely grateful and thrilled to represent Howl internationally. We have been great admirers of Rob and Jeffrey’s work over the years. Howl is a precious and remarkable piece of film you come across very rarely.”

Meanwhile, The Match Factory will be representing three of the competition titles confirmed so far for this year’s Berlinale official competition:

  • Iranian-born Rafi Pitts’ fifth feature The Hunter (Shekarchi), which the director describes as “a neo-realist Western”.
  • Turkish director Semih Kaplanoglu’s Honey (Bal), the third and final part of the “Yusuf Trilogy” after Milk and Egg.
  • Bosnian filmmaker Jasmila Zbanic’s second feature On The Path (Na Putu), starring Zrinka Cvitesic, Leon Lucev and Mirjana Karanovic.