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Lelouch, Montreal’s SDA to team on pic

MONTREAL — Gallic helmer Claude Lelouch announced Monday at a press conference here that his next feature, “Apres Tout … et Meme Plus,” will be co-produced by his own company, Les Films 13, in partnership with Montreal producer SDA Prods. The $17 million pic will be lensed next year in France, Montreal, Churchill Falls in northern Manitoba, New York, Acapulco and South Korea.

SDA Prods., which is a minority partner in the project, will be making its feature debut with the film. SDA presi-dent Andre Picard said the company, one of Quebec’s top TV production houses, will be shooting at least one major feature annually over the next few years.

SDA is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Montreal-based Coscient Group, and Coscient Astral Distribution has rights to the Lelouch pic in Canada, England, New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and Hong Kong. The deal also sig-nals Coscient Astral Distribution’s intention to significantly up its activities in the feature-film sphere both in Can-ada and overseas, and the company plans to aggressively pursue the acquisition of rights to features.

Lelouch spent the past few days in Quebec scouting locations and auditioning local thesps, and he is heading to New York later this week to look for locations for the Manhattan leg of the shoot. The film, based on a script by Lelouch, will star his wife, Alessandra Martines, who will portray a 33-year-old dancer in the midst of a mid-life crisis. In the script, the French dancer comes to Quebec at the request of her son, who is obsessed with a star player with the Montreal Canadiens hockey team.

“I have a real tenderness for this country, which is why I wrote a script that takes place in large part in Canada,” said Lelouch. “It was the script itself that forced us to do it as a co-production. That’s the way it should always be. It should be natural.”

Coscient Astral Distribution was formed last year when Coscient bought Astral Distribution from Astral Commu-nications and merged the new division with Allegro Films Distribution, which was already owned by Coscient. The new distrib is still primarily a TV distributor, but it will be handling a lot more high-profile, theatrical product like the Lelouch title, per Stephen Greenberg, president of Coscient Astral Distribution.

“Theatrical product is our major priority,” said Greenberg. “That powers the system. We’re going to move in that direction more heavily, both in French and English.

“We’ll be involved in six of these productions a year and we’ll also be acquiring eight to 10 films a year for distri-bution.”

SDA, which produces popular French-Canadian series like “Omerta,” has one other feature in development, a more modestly-budgeted English-lingo pic.

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