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Cable net bows indie prod’n unit

NEW YORK — In what has become a hallmark of his films, John Sayles’ new “Men With Guns” was financed with innovative funding sources: a newly formed production company of the Independent Film Channel and Paul Allen, in his first foray into indie film.

The cable channel today will announce IFC Prods., a venture headed by Jonathan Sehring that will co-produce up to three features a year.

Microsoft co-founder Allen, who invested $500 million in the startup DreamWorks, recently formed Clear Blue Sky Prods. to develop and finance independent film projects by directors such as Sayles. Based in Bellevue, Wash., Clear Blue Sky is led by Jody Patton.

R. Paul Miller and Maggie Renzi, who produced Sayles’ 1996 release “Lone Star,” reprise those chores on “Guns.” The new film’s executive producers are Patton, Gotham attorney John Sloss and L.A. businessman Lou Gonda of Lexington Road Prods.

Founded in 1991 to fund TV and film projects, Lexington Road recently completed 13 episodes of “Waterfront,” an international co-production with Germany’s Studio Hamburg.

“Guns” has completed principal photography in Mexico. Following its completion, pic will be licensed for distribution worldwide.

Known for taking risks, Sayles has filmed the pic in Spanish and several indigenous languages; it will carry English subtitles in the U.S.

“Men With Guns” stars Argentina’s Federico Luppi as a wealthy doctor in a fictional Latin American country who discovers the dark heart of his own society while searching for his former medical students. In addition to a troupe of 50 Mexican thesps, “Men” features Mandy Patinkin and Kathryn Grody as American tourists who meet the doctor on his journey.

Slawomir Idziak (“The Double Life of Veronique”) is the cinematographer on “Men,” which was shot in more than 50 locations in Mexico.

“Men” is the 11th feature film of writer-director-editor Sayles.

His latest, “Lone Star,” was a Sony Pictures Classics release that grossed $12 million domestically. Pic has been nominated for an original screenplay Oscar and two Independent Spirit awards.

Sayles was also an Oscar contender for his script for 1992’s “Passion Fish,” which nabbed another nom for actress Mary McDonnell.

Sayles’ other credits include “Matewan,” “Eight Men Out,” “City of Hope” and “The Secret of Roan Inish.”

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