CANNES — French mini-major MK2 has signed up to produce the next three pics from U.S. director Jonathan Nossiter. This is the second deal that MK2 president Marin Karmitz has struck with an American director, following a similar agreement with Lodge Kerrigan.
Nossiter’s first film for Karmitz will be the $7 million “Signs and Wonders.” His last feature, “Sunday,” appeared in Un Certain Regard at Cannes in 1997 and was picked up by MK2 for French distribution.
“Signs and Wonders,” co-scripted by James Lasdun, is set to shoot in Greece and the United States toward the end of the year. “It’s the story of an American ex-patriot in Greece and that’s as much as I’m saying,” Karmitz said.
The MK2 president has a well-established strategy of forming long-term relationships with international directors, but signing up U.S. helmers is a relatively recent development.
MK2 produced the Kieslowski “Three Colors” trilogy, backs Iran’s leading filmers Abbas Kiarostami and Mohsen Makhalbaf, as well as Rumania’s Lucian Pintilie, and has produced the last 10 pics from Gallic helmer Claude Chabrol.
Last year Karmitz told Daily Variety he intended to hunt out new talent on the U.S. indie scene in the hope of “unearthing a new Scorsese or Altman. If I can come up with three top new directors it will be a miracle.” That led to MK2 fully financing Kerrigan’s 1998 Cannes comp entry “Claire Dolan.”
“We’ve seen for awhile that the big Hollywood companies are producing a certain type of film where imagination and contents are either lacking or are stereotyped. No industry can work without a research division to develop new talent. I think I have proved in the past that MK2 can handle that role,” he said.
While Karmitz readily admits that he can’t produce Hollywood-style pics, he hopes “the Lodge Kerrigan film proves that we can produce American projects. We can finance, sell internationally and guarantee distribution and screens in France” — via the recently renamed MK2 cinema circuit in Paris.
Karmitz stresses the door is wide open for U.S. production companies, including the specialist arms of the majors, if they want to collaborate on future proj-ects.
With 18-year-old Iranian director Samira Makhmalbaf’s “The Apple” appearing in Un Certain Regard this year, Karmitz now produces a father and daughter directing team. Samira’s partner, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, is now in post-production on “The Silence,” while fellow Iranian helmer Abbas Kiarostami will start shooting “Special Ceremony” in June.