With the Toronto International Film Festival set to open tomorrow, expect the wheeling and dealing to get hot and heavy. Officially, the festival doesn't have a market component, but unofficially, agents, distributors, lawyers, managers, producers, publicists and sales agents are jetting in from all over the world in search of the Next Great Thing. Or, at least several Good Things. Among the early deals comes the announcement that the Little Film Company has acquired international sales rights to Avi Nesher's The Secrets. Ronna Wallace of Eastgate Pictures retains US and Canadian sales rights.

I mentioned The Secrets a while back when writing about what was playing in Jerusalem. The description I found at the time was: "Two women discover their own voices in a repressive orthodox culture." The two women are played by newcomers Ania Bukstein and Michal Shtamler, and the 'repressive culture' is a women's religious seminary in Safed, Israel, the birthplace of Kabala. For their performances, both women have been nominated for awards by the Israeli Film Academy, Bukstein as Best Actress and Shtamler as Best Supporting Actress. Fanny Ardant also stars as "a mysterious woman exiled there for committing a crime of passion."

Director Avi Nesher recently won an Achievement Award at the Jerusalem Film Festival. He's been making films since 1979. After scoring initial success in Israel, Nesher toiled for about a decade in Hollywood, where he directed genre fare like Doppelganger with Drew Barrymore. He has since returned to Israel; his previous film, Turn Left at the Edge of the World, was an excellent immigrant drama that also focused on the relationship of two young women. The Secrets will have its international premiere at the Toronto festival.