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Sony Pictures Classics Picks Up Another Middle Eastern Film and Foreign Oscar Submission

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by Anne Thompson
October 2, 2012 1:26 PM
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'Fill the Void'

In advance of its New York Film Festival screening next week, Israel's Oscar entry "Fill the Void," has been acquired by Sony Pictures Classics. Israel sends its Ophir Best Picture winner to the Oscars. Writer Rama Burshtein's directorial debut "Fill the Void" won a total of seven Ophirs. The film played Venice and Toronto; here are reviews from THR and The Playlist. SPC plans a 2013 release.

SPC has been picking up many films from the Middle East, including incendiary Shin Bet doc "The Gatekeepers," which the company will qualify for the documentary Oscar this year (their other doc contender is "West of Memphis")."We go where the good movies are," says SPC co-president Tom Bernard. "We go where there's fish."

SPC has done well with Middle Eastern titles in the past, from Israel's Oscar nominee "Waltz with Bashir" to last year's Iranian winner, Asghar Farhadi's  "A Separation." (This year Iran is boycotting the Oscars.) Post-Telluride and Toronto SPC has also acquired U.S. rights to "The Patience Stone," which is adapted from the Prix Goncourt-winning 2008 novel and directed by Atiq Rahimi ("Earth and Ashes") as well as North American rights to "Wadjda," written and directed by the first Saudi Arabian woman filmmaker, Haifaa Al-Mansour, as well as the first feature film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia, which did not submit a film for the foreign Oscar.

SPC's other foreign submissions include Chile's "No," starring Gael Garcia Bernal, and Michael Haneke's French-language "Amour," from Austria, which won the Palme d'Or in Cannes and could also wind up with a best picture nomination. Stars Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva will vie for acting nominations; Haneke is a good bet for director.

Although France submitted The Weinstein Co.'s "The Intouchables" for the Oscars over Jacques Audiard's Cannes entry "Rust and Bone," SPC will pursue best picture and actress nominations for the film, which stars Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard.

"Fill the Void" producer Assaf Amir previously worked with Sony Classics on "Broken Wings." Here's the synopsis:

FILL THE VOID tells the story of a young Orthodox Hassidic girl, Shira, and her family as they are struck by tragedy when her older sister dies in childbirth, just when Shira is about to be married.  When her sister's husband is pressured to remarry and her mother makes a shocking proposal, Shira is forced to choose between her heart’s wish and her family duty.

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