Fricke directs ‘Baraka’ sequel

Magidson produces pic

CANNES — Nearly 15 years after “Baraka” gained critical acclaim and estimable returns in homevid, a sequel is in motion.

“Samsara,” directed and shot by Ron Fricke, has begun lensing and will span 12 to 14 months and more than 20 countries.

“One of the challenges of this is to try to get stunning and unfamiliar imagery,” producer Mark Magidson said. “We also need to have a lot of density of imagery to build the sequences for a film that relies on non-verbal storytelling and can sustain interest for the length of a feature.”

With elements of travelogue, New Age trip and anthropological exploration, “Baraka” and its followup belong to a subgenre of non-verbal pics that includes such titles as “Koyaanisqatsi” and “Winged Migration.” “Samsara” is a Sanskrit word for “cyclic existence” and the filmmakers call the film a “guided meditation” through “birth, death and rebirth” in several cultures.

In 1993, Samuel Goldwyn’s release notched a $1.3 million domestic cume.

Tech aspects and music play a key role in non-verbal films, and Lisa Gerrard of Dead Can Dance and “Gladiator” fame will be involved in the “Samsara” score.

Improvements in home- theater systems over the years have helped keep homevid demand strong, and “Baraka” has shipped more than half a million DVDs to date. An upgraded edition, in both regular and high-definition, is on the way from MPI Home Video by year’s end.

Budget for the sequel is likely to exceed the original’s $3 million, with world distribution rights expected to remain up for grabs until shooting wraps.

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