Just days before its World Premiere at the Locarno Film Festival this past week, FUNimation announced that it had acquired "varied rights in North America and Latin America" to Vexille, an animated film from Japan. The company is based in Fort Worth, Texas and is perhaps best known for their extensive line of anime DVDs, including recent titles like Afro Samurai and Beck. But they've also been involved in the theatrical distribution business for a while, showcasing films such as the stylish Japanese action picture Shinobi.

As Monika Bartyzel reported previously, Vexille received a "glowing review" from Todd at Twitch, who saw it at an advanced screening, and Monika described the trailers as looking "pretty cool." Vexille was made by the production team behind the very impressive 2004 Appleseed and contemplates a future in which android techonology is banned; Japan refuses to go along and closes itself off from the rest of the world. Ray Bennett at The Hollywood Reporter saw it at Locarno and opines: "Anime is an acquired taste but fans will surely respond to the picture's dynamite energy. Those not already in the fold will find this one very easy to take." Derek Elley of Variety was at the same screening but was not impressed: "Those who wondered what all the fuss was with Appleseed will be even more mystified by Vexille ... Clumsily structured, dawdling yarn."

Vexille will open in Japan on August 18. It has been sold to 75 territories by production company Shochiku, according to Variety, and will play at the upcoming Toronto film festival in the Midnight Madness program. FUNimation wants to screen Vexille at other North American film festivals in 2008 before releasing it to US theaters and DVD later in the year.

[ Via Twitch ]