Chinese authorities blocked Liu Jian’s comedic neo-noir Have A Nice Day (Hao ji le) from screening at Annecy earlier this month, but the film has now been picked up for distribution in the United States by Strand Releasing.

Strand plans to place the film into U.S. theaters sometime this fall. It marks one of the more significant animated film acquisitions for the art house film distributor, which has released few animated titles in its 28-year history.

Earlier this year, Have A Nice Day became the first Chinese animated feature to screen in competition at the Berlin Film Festival, and has subsequently traveled on the festival circuit, screening at Holland Animation Film Festival, Seattle Int’l Film Festival, Neuchatel In’t Fantastic Film Festival, and Animafest Zagreb.

The film generated headlines earlier this month when it was revealed that Chinese government authorities had forced the filmmakers to withdraw the film from the Annecy film festival, where it had been selected to screen in competition.

Set in the seedy parts of a southern Chinese city, Have A Nice Day follows a cast of opportunists, mobsters, and other shady characters as they try to get their hands on a bag containing a million yuan (around US$150,000). “Strand is the perfect home for this fresh, subversive and politically trenchant pulp thriller!,” said Tanja Meissner of the Paris-based sales company Memento Films International, which negotiated the deal with Strand.

Screen Daily reports enthusiasm for Have A Nice Day from distributors around the globe, with Memento also closing distribution deals in Spain (La Aventura), Benelux (Fu Works), Switzerland (Outside the Box), Greece (Seven Films), Turkey (Bir Film), Former Yugoslavia (Megacom), Hungary (Cirko), and in-flight airline distribution (Encore). Additionally, the streaming service MUBI will release the film in U.K./Ireland both theatrically and on its digital platform.

Have A Nice Day is Jian’s second animated feature, following Piercing 1, released in 2010.

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