By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood January 8, 2013 at 12:12PM
Haut et Court has taken the French distribution rights to Sean Ellis' thriller "Metro Manila" a couple weeks before the film's debut at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. It centers on a destitute countryman in the Philippines who is sucked into a dangerous crime ring when he moves to the country's bustling capital, Manila.
Haut et Court will release the film in France in May. No word yet on American distribution.
Director Ellis is Oscar-nominated for his 2006 short film "Cashback," which he then went on to develop into a feature of the same title. He has also helmed BAFTA-nominated short "The Business Trip" and the feature-length thriller "The Broken," which premiered at Sundance in 2008.
"Metro Manila" isn't the only film to get nabbed before its Sundance debut -- Ashton Kutcher-starrer "jOBS" was picked up January 3 by Open Road Films, with an American release planned for April.
Sundance's program notes for "Metro Manila":
Seeking a brighter future in megacity Manila, Oscar Ramirez and his family flee their impoverished life in the rice fields of the northern Philippines. But the sweltering capital’s bustling intensity quickly overwhelms them, and they fall prey to the rampant manipulations of its hardened locals. Oscar catches a lucky break when he’s offered steady work for an armored truck company and gregarious senior officer Ong takes him under his wing. Soon, though, the reality of his work’s mortality rate and the murky motives of his new partner force Oscar to confront the perils he faces in his new job and life.
Director Sean Ellis’s return (The Broken premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival) vividly captures the desperation of life amongst the squalid Manila slums, then ratchets up the tension, creating an intense thriller with a poignant humanity and palpable dramatic stakes. In the role of Oscar, Jake Macapagal brings emotional depth to the wrenching choices he must make to sustain his family.