EXCLUSIVE: Paris-based Reel Suspects has picked up sales rights to well-received Rome Film Festival drama Willow (Vrba) by Macedonian writer-director and festival favorite Milcho Manchevski.

The film is the last from the late UK producer Nik Powell (The Crying Game) who served as an executive on the feature.

New York-based Manchevski, whose acclaimed debut Before The Rain was Oscar-nominated in 1994, returns to his native Macedonia to tell the story of three women yearning for motherhood. The three stories – one medieval, two contemporary – explore themes of tradition, love, trust and female agency.

Matteo Lovadina’s Reel Suspects will take the film to UniFrance’s Rendez-Vous event in Paris next week and then on to the European Film Market in Berlin. The firm has world sales rights other than former Yugoslavia, Albania, Hungary and Belgium.

Manchevski produces with Jane Kortoshev and it was made in association with Powell’s Scala Productions. The influential UK producer and former NFTS head had taken the project to Cannes in 2018.

Cast includes Sara Klimoska, Natalija Teodosieva, Kamka Tocinovski, Nenad Nacev, Nikola Risteski, Petar Caranovikj and Ratka Radmanovic. The praised cinematography comes from Tamas Dobos, whose credits include Kornel Mundruczo’s Jupiter’s Moon.

Also behind the production are Banana Film, Baba Film, Hungary’s Pioneer Pictures, Albania’s Tirana Film Institute, and Belgian companies Saga Film and BNP Paribas Fortis Film Finance.