ROME — Upstart banner Key Films has secured a stake in a number of international productions, including new features from Lasse Hallstrom, Mira Nair and Lisanne Skyler.
“These deals represent approximately $18 million to be invested by Key Films in projects with quality filmmakers over the next 18 months,” said Kermit Smith. The Key topper will figure as producer, executive producer, co-producer or associate producer on the films, with credits still being negotiated in some cases.
Key was set up in 1999 by Smith following his acrimonious split from former partner Andrea Occhipinti, with whom he had founded Lucky Red, one of Italy’s most established distribution and production outfits for high-end arthouse titles.
Key announced in Cannes that it would co-finance Danish director Thomas Vinterberg’s first English-language feature, “It’s All About Love.”
Key will serve as a financial co-producer on Hallstrom’s “Sebastian’s Love,” to be produced by Bertil Ohlsson.
Smith established a relationship with Hallstrom through Key’s successful release in March of “The Cider House Rules.”
Also on Key’s co-production slate is Indian director Nair’s “Delhi.com (Monsoon Wedding),” which is being set up with the U.S.’ Independent Film Channel.
Smith will share producer credit with Mike Figgis and Annie Stewart through their Red Mullet company on Skyler’s “Rules of the Wild,” starring Valeria Golino and adapted from Francesca Marciano’s bestseller about a young Italian woman in Africa. Skyler’s debut feature, “Getting to Know You,” was the maiden release from Key Films.
On ‘River’ team
Key also teamed with Britain’s Metro Tartan, Germany’s Kinowelt and Bac Films of France to bankroll post-production on Canadian helmer Lynne Stopkewich’s “Suspicious River,” which Smith hopes to premiere at the Venice Film Festival this fall.
Shooting is planned for March in New York and Scandinavia on “It’s All About Love,” a drama from “The Celebration” director Vinterberg about the attempt by two estranged lovers. Key and the U.K.’s Film Four will co-finance the film, to be produced by Birgitte Hald for Nimbus Film.
Smith also is preparing for Key’s first ventures into Italian production with three features scheduled over the next 18 months. First of these to be announced is Renato De Maria’s “Paz,” about the life of Andrea Pazienza, an influential cartoonist from Bologna.
Key was one of Italy’s most voracious buyers at the recent Cannes fest, picking up distribution rights “Harry, He’s Here to Help,” “Devils on the Doorstep,” “Songs From the Second Floor,” “Eureka” and “Better Than Sex.”
The distrib’s next-season slate will be divided into three divisions: Box Office, Arthouse and Key Cult. Box Office will cover commercial product starting with “The Skulls.”