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UK producer/distributor AX1 Films announced today the acquisition of all UK rights to the highly acclaimed independent US feature HALF NELSON from THINKFilm, which is selling the film internationally as well as releasing in North America.

Written and directed by Ryan Fleck, and starring Ryan Gosling and Shareeka Epps, the film receives its UK premiere at the London Film Festival today (27 October) after earlier screening at the Sundance Film Festival, and fresh from recent success at the Locarno and Deauville Film Festivals, where it won the Special Jury Prize at each event.

The deal marks the latest in a string of acquisitions for AX1, which has significantly expanded its distribution output in recent months, releasing a string of diverse titles including Jun Ichikawa’s TONY TAKITANI, Daniel Burman’s LOST EMBRACE, and Lu Chuan’s KEKEXILI: MOUNTAIN PATROL, currently on release. The company has also acquired Eugene Jarecki’s documentary WHY WE FIGHT, Tsai Ming-Liang’s THE WAYWARD CLOUD, Wim Wender’s LAND OF PLENTY, Zhang Yimou’s RIDING ALONG FOR THOUSANDS OF MILES, and the winner of the Cannes Director’s Fortnight award, ANCHE LIBERO VA BENE by Kim Rossi Stuart.

HALF NELSON tells the story of an inner city high school teacher, with a secret drug habit, who forms an unlikely friendship with one of his pupils. Widely applauded by critics in the US, the film is currently on general release having grossed over $2.6 million to date and is still going strong on the back of a very aggressive Academy Award campaign for the two lead performances by Ryan Gosling and Shareeka Epps.

AX1 Films’ Head of Acquisitions, Rocio Freire-Bernat said:

We are absolutely thrilled with the acquisition of this wonderfully poignant film, which features extraordinary performances from Ryan Gosling and Shareeka Epps, and we look forward to building here in the UK on the first class campaign run by our friends at THINKFilm in the US.

THINKFilm VP of International, David Fenkel says:

HALF NELSON has succeeded tremendously in every aspect of its U.S. theatrical release and worldwide presentations - box office success, critical acclaim, and unprecedented audience response. We couldn’t be happier to be partnering with AX1, the appropriate UK distributor with the skill, taste and track record, to present such a remarkable American independent movie to British audiences. We feel very confident that the success will continue in their hands.