US/UK-based Benten/Watchmaker Films has acquired all North American, UK, and European rights for “Fish Eyes,” the debut feature from Chinese filmmaker Zheng Wei. The film recently screened in the Showcase section of this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. The agreement marks Benten/Watchmaker’s entry into the theatrical market, as well as their first acquisition for international distribution. The deal was brokered with the filmmaker and Jun Seong, the producer of the film.
“Fish Eyes” is the first feature from China’s 29-year-old Zheng Wei. Set between the months of the Sichuan earthquake and the 2008 Beijing Olympics, it tells the story of a father, son, and the mysterious young woman who enters their lives. The film was shot in HD, and features a cast of non-professional actors.
“When I first saw the film, I knew I had stumbled upon a major talent,” said Benten President Andrew Grant in a statement. “It’s almost hard to believe that a film this beautiful and understated is the work of a newcomer. That it was shot in only eighteen days, and for less than $40,000, is staggering.”
Benten will work with Seong on securing a theatrical run, a first for the DVD-only label. “The film is too vital–and frankly, too gorgeously shot–to not give it a chance on the big screen,” said Benten VP Aaron Hillis in a statement. “We’re truly thrilled about entering the theatrical market, and with such a strong title to make that leap.”
Benten Films recently merged with UK-based Watchmaker Films in an international partnership. Benten/Watchmaker titles are distributed in the US by E1 Entertainment (formerly Koch Home Entertainment) and in the United Kingdom and Eire by PIAS UK.