United Artists has acquiredthe North American rights to Siddiq Barmak's acclaimed Directors' Fortnightentry Osama, the first film to beshot entirely in Afghanistan since the rise and fall of the Taliban.
The film was rapturouslyreceived in Cannes last week, where Screen International described it as "astriking, very accessible portrait of life under the Taliban."
Osama receivedthe prestigious Special Mention for the Camera D'Or as well as the prize forBest Film at the festival from the Cannes Youth Jury and the CK Award from theArthouse Cinema-Owners of France.
Osama conveys the tragedy of religious extremism through the eyes of a younggirl who is forced to disguise herself as a boy and is sent out to work tosupport her family with horrific consequences once her true identity isdiscovered by the regime.
Frank Mannion of Swipe Filmsin London acted as sales agent and negotiated the North American deal with SaraRose, senior vice president of acquisitions and production, Jack Turner, vicepresident of acquisitions and Lindsay Crain, manager of acquisitions. Osama was sold by Swipe to every major territory.
Osama was co-produced byBarmak Films, NHK (Japan) and leBrocquy Fraser Productions. The producers wereSiddiq Barmak, Julie leBrocquy and Julia Fraser.
The cast consisted ofnon-professionals and the lead actress, Marina Golbahari, 12, was found beggingin the streets by the director.
Barmak acted as culturalattache to Ahmed Shah Massoud, Afghanistan's national hero during the SovietInvasion and in resisting the Taliban. All the previous works of Barmak wereconfiscated by the Taliban as part of their campaign to rid the country of anyperceived revolutionary elements.
Barmak, who is currentlyhead of the Afghan Film Organization and the Afghan Children's EducationMovement (ACEM), noted the "amazing job" that United Artists did releasing "myfriend, Danis Tanovic's film, No Man's Land."
Frank Mannion observed that:"less than forty films have been made in the history of Afghanistan andthe film represents a new renaissance for Afghan cinema and the emergence of atrue visionary talent in Siddiq Barmak."