Web's film arm to help fund 'Kohlhaas,' 'Michelangelo'

PARIS — Arte France Cinema, the production arm of the Franco-German net, has boarded two co-productions: Arnaud des Pallieres’ “Michael Kohlhaas,” an adaptation of the German literary classic, and “The Passion of Michelangelo,” by up-and-coming Chilean helmer Esteban Larrain.

Produced by French outfit Les Films d’Ici (“Waltz with Bashir”) and Berlin-based shingle Looks Films, “Michael Kohlhaas” tells the fanatical quest for justice of a 16th-century German horse dealer.

Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen (“Casino Royal”) is in advanced negotiations to play Kohlhaas.

Pic has an estimated budget of $10.6 million, said Charlotte Uzu, head of international development at Les Films d’Ici.

Lensing will kick off in May 2011 in the Cevennes, a range of mountains in Southern France.

“The Passion of Michelangelo” is Larrain’s follow up to “Alice in the Land,” which bowed at Locarno and nabbed the jury prize in 2008.

Larrain developed the script at the Cannes Film Festival’s Cinefondation residence.

Set in 1983, during the regime of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, the film follows a 14-year-old street kid who was turned into a prophet by the government to divert public opinion and contain civil unrest.

Produced by Chilean outfit Piranha Films and Chin Chin Productions, “Michelangelo” has been awarded coin from Fonds Sud, a CNC subsidy for developing countries.

Chilean thesps Patricio Contreras and Catalina Saavedra (“The Maid”) will topline.

A powerful backer of auteur cinema, Arte invests 3.5% of its annual revenues on Gallic and French-majority co-productions through Arte France Cinema. With an annual budget of $9.4 million, Arte France Cinema partly finances more than 20 films and up to three documentaries per year.

Recent pics co-produced by Arte France Cinema include Stephane Brize’s “Mademoiselle Chambon,” which nabbed a Cesar for adapted screenplay; and Gerard Depardieu’s “Mammuth,” which was in competish at this year’s Berlin fest.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more