M-Appeal Signs Multi-Territory Deals on Gay Romance ‘Liuben,’ Erotic Gay Thriller ‘In Bed’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Berlin-based sales outfit M-Appeal has closed two multi-territory deals for Bulgarian gay summer-romance film “Liuben,” directed by Venci Kostov.

The film has been acquired by TLA Entertainment for North America, France, U.K. and Ireland, and Cinemien for Germany, Austria, German-speaking Switzerland, Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Israel, Italy and Sweden.

“Liuben,” which has its world premiere at Guadalajara Intl. Film Festival in June, is the first openly gay film from Bulgaria. Roma actors, who are usually absent from Bulgarian cinema, play lead roles in the film.

The film follows Victor, 27, who returns to his childhood home in Bulgaria for his grandfather’s funeral, and decides to stay for the summer. While reconnecting with his father and the village way of life, he unexpectedly finds love in the form of Liuben, an 18-year-old Roma boy. Despite their differences, and the conflicts around them, Victor and Liuben find refuge in each other.

LGBT distributor TLA Entertainment’s previous releases include “Bridesman” (2022), “Dry Wind” (2020) and 2020 Teddy winner “No Hard Feelings.” “ ‘Liuben’ is a great addition to our slate, we are proud to bring the first gay film from Bulgaria to our audience,” Adam Silver, director of international acquisitions at TLA Entertainment, said.

Cinemien, whose recent titles include “Lost Illusions” (2021), “Burning Days” (2022), and “Lonesome” (2022), are planning a tailor-made release for “Liuben,” involving cinema event-screenings for gay audiences in different cities.

M-Appeal has also closed a deal with Cinemien for erotic gay thriller “In Bed,” which premiered in Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival last year. The film, by Nitzan Gilady, takes place over a night of sex, drugs and paranoia in Tel Aviv. Distribution for the film has already been secured in France, North America, Poland, U.K. and Ireland.

Cinemien will release the film in Germany, Austria, German-speaking Switzerland, Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Spain, Italy and Sweden.

M-Appeal, which has a strong focus on representing LGBTQ and female-centered films, are celebrating 15 years of the company this year. The agency is handling sales for two titles in the Cannes Film Festival: ACID title “Let Me Go” by Maxime Rappaz, and Critics’ Week title “Power Alley” by Lillah Halla.

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