Lightning struck the set of No Man's Land in late summer. It struck again in Cannes, where Danis Tanovic's $1m debut became the underdog hit of the competition and capped its standing ovation by securing North American distribution through UA after a fierce bidding war.

The Sales Co also sold the Bosnian war film to Japan (Bitters End); Spain (Golem); Israel (Shani); Switzerland (FilmCoopi); Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Chile (Alfa); Hungary (Budapest Film); Greece (Ama Films); Turkey (Umut Sanat); Korea (Korean Arts Centre); CIS (Cosmopol); Hong Kong (First Distribution); and Baltic States (Fimimax).

Along with launching Tanovic, the film may even boost Balkan cinema in general. The region already has Milcho Manchevski's Dust set for Venice's opening night.

"The fact that there has been so much conflict there may ironically be a good thing, a stimulus for creativity," said Simon Perry, who backed the Euro co-production through the now defunct British Screen.