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Busy MK2 leans on top helmers

It adds pics by Kiarostami, Assayas to slate

With Walter Salles’ “On the Road” now in post, MK2 is continuing the trend of French companies backing well-known international auteurs with new projects from Abbas Kiarostami — “The End” — and Olivier Assayas — “Apres mai” (Something in the Air).

Headed by prexy Nathanael Karmitz, MK2 will also handle French distribution and international sales on the films.

In both, the directors continue to explore new horizons.

“The End” is scheduled to begin filming in April in Japan, starring young Japanese actress Aoi Miyazaki (“Mt. Tsurugidake,” “The Shonen Merikensack”), with Kiarostami shooting in Japanese.

In some ways a continuation of “Certified Copy,” “End” features a “contemporary relationship in today’s Japan,” Karmitz said.

“End” is co-produced by Japanese arthouse distributor-producer Eurospace, which has released Kiarostami’s films in Japan since 1992’s “And Life Goes On.”

France’s Assayas will segue from career milestone “Carlos” to shoot “Air” at the end of May in Italy, France and England.

A fully financed MK2 production set in the early ’70s, “Air” turns on “the difficulties of freedom,” Karmitz said, charting how an 18-year-old reacts to the rapid social change and political activism begun in the late ’60s.

Also written by Assayas, “Air” will be mostly French-language with some English and Italian dialogue.

“But this is not a French story,” Karmitz said. “It’s about the world in the ’70s.”

Neither movie will break the bank: “The End” is budgeted at €3.5 million ($4.8 million), “Air” at $6.8 million, Karmitz said.

Like “On the Road,” they are examples, Karmitz noted, of films from helmers who started their careers as arthouse directors “but have looked for new ways of talking to audiences.”

That’s a broader trend in contemporary cinema, he added.

“Certified Copy” is one of Kiarostami’s biggest box office successes; “Carlos” is a flagship Canal Plus co-production, screening on the Gallic paybox as a miniseries.

“End” and “Air” join a busy MK2 production slate.

Salles is now editing “Road,” produced by MK2 and Sofia and Roman Coppola’s American Zoetrope (set up be their father Francis Ford Coppola), with MK2 selling abroad and distributing in France.

Meanwhile, Xavier Dolan’s “Laurence Anyways,” co-produced with Lyse Lafontaine at Canada’s Lyla Films, shoots in late February.

“La fee” (The Fairy), from Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon and Bruno Remy (“The Iceberg,” “Rumba”), is in post.

At Berlin, MK2 will also hold a special screening of Greece’s Oscar-nominated “Dogtooth,” sold to 30 territories, but with some countries outstanding.

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