Kaurismaki on board for ‘Express’

Project unveiled at Paris event 1 +1 = 3

MADRID — Mika Kaurismaki (“Three Wise Men”) is attached to direct “Patagonia Express,” an adventure movie set up at Luis Angel Bellaba’s Madrid-based Aquelarre.

The English-language pic, which is skedded to roll September 2011, turns on a political exile, a pilot, who returns to his native Chile to set up a cargo and airline service, and find his place in the world, even if it’s in the wilds of Patagonia.

The screenplay was adapted from a novel by Chile’s Luis Sepulveda.

“Express” is one of seven projects to be unveiled Friday at Paris’ 1 + 1 = 3, a networking meeting for Madrid-based producers seeking French distribution, co-production or sales agents.

Forming part of June’s Diferente 3, the third edition of an alternative Paris Spanish cinema festival, which kicked off Monday, 1 + 1 = 3 is organized by Espagnolas en Paris, PromoMadrid and the Ile de France Film Commission.

StudioCanal, MK2, Haut et Court, UGC, Back Up, Funny Balloons, Les Films d’Ici and Colifilms feature among 28 French shingles confirming attendance through Tuesday. Numbers include much of the creme of the Gallic industry.

Directed by Finland’s Bahia-based Kaurismaki and produced by Madrid-based Argentinian Bellaba, “Express” hardly typifies 1 + 1 = 3 projects in budget — it weighs in at Euros4.5 million ($5.4 million), said Bellaba.

But it’s par for the course in other ways.

“The projects’ most notable aspect is their wide diversity, in types, locations, visions, budgets, even the origins of their filmmakers,” said PromoMadrid cultural industries director Carlos Martins.

Lifting the lid on European soccer clubs’ exploitation of young African players, Miguel Alcantud’s “Amadou and Moussa” is part set in Mali but produced by Italian Carlo D’Ursi at Madrid’s Potenza Prods.

Two projects — Miguel Angel Jimenez’s “Kazakhs,” about a young woman’s life odyssey, and Belgium-based Pedro Cenjor’s Brussels-set dramedy “Transits” — are produced by Madrid-located Basques: Koldo Zuazua and vet Jose Maria Lara respectively.

Budgets range widely: “Kazakhs,” which is sparking good buzz, costs Euros980,00 ($1.2 million); producer-director Miguel Angel Calvo Buttini’s historical adventure film “Francisco and Inigo,” about the creation of the Jesuit Order, will cost around Euros 10 million ($12.1 million).

Even for France, which boasts Europe’s most cosmopolitan production and sales sectors, Madrid companies can bring some things to the table, such as talent and their contacts with and visions of Latin America.

Some French firms know Latin America intimately — Wild Bunch, for instance. Many others are still exploring the region.

Set in Latin America, but produced out of Spain, many 1 + 1 = 3 projects create possibilities of a three-way co-production with Latin America and France.

Drawing in a further European co-producer opens another door to potential funding from Eurimages, apart from Ibermedia coin.

Loosely adapting Anton Chekhov’s breakthrough novella “The Steppe,” “La Pampa,” from reputed Argentine-Spanish director-producer Enrique Gabriel (“Sighs From the Heart,” “Wiped Out Footprints”) is being set up as a co-production with Argentina.

Imval-produced six-part “We Need to Talk,” a study in couple’s relationship dynamics directed by six distaff directors from Spain and Latin America, is looking to Mexican co-production, backed up by Mexico’s Article 226 tax coin.

“This is an informal meeting between respected companies in Spain and France, playing off the production dynamics that France and Spain can create with third countries,” said Jose Maria Riba, a driving force behind Espagnolas en Paris.

1 + 1 = 3 projects were selected from nearly 20 applications, Martins added.

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