Giuseppe Tornatore's La Sconosciuta (The Unknown) has been sold to seven countries at the inaugural Rome festival.The film, which marks the director's return to film-making aftera six-year hiatus, closed the Premiere section of the festival.

Based on a storythe Sicilian director clipped from a newspaper years ago, the film was shot in the Northern city of Triesteand tells the story of a Moldovan domestic worker Irena (played by newcomer Ksenia Rappoport), who hides a dark secret.

The noir-styledtale becomes tangled when Irena's ex pimp/companion (portrayedwith grotesque competence by veteran actor/director Michele Placido)resurfaces.

Rome-based distributorAdriana Chiesa confirmed sales to seven territories, includingBrazil's Paris Film, Greece's PVC, Japan's Happinet, Scandinavia's Future Film,Holland's Cinemien, Belgium's ABC and Italian Film for the Middle East. Chiesaalso told ScreenDaily she is close to finalising deals with Germany andSpain.

"Buyers think itis a great masterpiece and very commercial film as well," she said, adding thatall sales except to Japan were conducted during Rome's business street.

La Sconosciuta is Tornatore's third film produced by theSilvio Berlusconi-backed Medusa Films after Milena (2000) and The Legend of the Pianist onthe Ocean (1998).

Medusa's strongpresence at the new Rome Festival (they also brought Paolo Virzi's N:Napoleon and Me) wasnotable because Italy's powerhouse indie producer didn't present any filmsat Venice.

Medusa CEOGiampaolo Letta dismissed this fact telling The Unknown was not ready in time to be considered forVenice.

"We wanted to give ourconfidence to this festival and take a risk. There is no reason to fear what isnew. It is an initiative that is very important and can only be good for allcinema in Italy."

Letta underlined that Venice is still "the" festival/

Letta additionallyconfirmed some projects in the pipeline- including Tornatore's next film -which he says may or may not be the previously announced Leningrad. Medusa will also produce the next filmsof Bernardo Bertolucci and Gabrielle Muccino. No working titles or details wereavailable these projects, all currently in pre production.

The Unknown opens in Italian cinemas on Friday with 300copies.