Miramax aboard ‘Singing’ in U.S.

Italian pirate drama sets sale with studio

ROME — Miramax Films has acquired Ermanno Olmi’s lyrical pirate drama “Singing Behind the Screens” for the U.S. in a rare type of pre-sale for a foreign-language film.

While no announcement was made, Miramax discreetly picked up U.S. rights to “Singing” at AFM earlier this year from Lakeshore, which had boarded the $10 million costume drama as minority co-producer and international sales agent at pre-production stage.

Lakeshore — which is RAI Cinema’s exclusive agent in the U.S. — invested in “Singing” as the first title under an agreement that sees the L.A.-and London-based indie collaborating with pubcaster RAI’s film arm on Italian productions in addition to acting on behalf of RAI Cinema for acquisition of U.S. feature product.

Co-produced by the director’s CinemaUndici shingle with domestic distrib Mikado and RAI Cinema, Olmi’s pic is a fablelike tale, set in the early 19th century in the South China Seas, of the young widow of a pirate chief who assumes command of the ship and crew.

Much like his previous work, “The Profession of Arms,” Olmi’s “Singing” is an allegorical anti-war drama.

Shot in Montenegro and at Roma Studios in the Italo capital, “Singing” stars Japanese-Italian actress Jun Ichikawa in her debut and Italian thesp Carlo Pedersoli, better known as Bud Spencer.

Mikado will release the film on 120 prints in Italy on Friday, and producers are angling to premiere the pirate pic at the Berlin Film Festival in February.

RAI Cinema CEO Giancarlo Leone said Miramax acquired “Singing” as part of a relationship that developed with the U.S. company after RAI acquired Italian rights to “The Human Stain,” which Lakeshore and Miramax co-produced. No U.S. release date has been set.

RAI Cinema more recently acquired Italian rights to Miramax’s “The Aviator” and “Shall We Dance?”

(David Rooney in New York contributed to this report.)

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