MONTREAL — John Turturro has signed on to play the lead role in Canadian helmer Arto Paragamian’s sophomore feature, “Two Thousand and None,” which began lensing in Montreal last week.

The Canuck pic is produced by Galafilm’s Arnie Gelbart (“Lilies”), with Paragamian writing and directing. Pandora Cinema of Paris has all world rights outside of Canada; Behaviour Distribution will release the pic in Canada.

Turturro plays Benjamin, a brilliant paleontologist who’s diagnosed with an unusual medical condition that causes a strange swelling of the brain and leaves him with just six weeks to live.

“It’s about life, death, and extinction, but in a very human way,” Gelbart said.

Paragamian’s first feature, the dark comedy “Because Why,” traveled widely on the international festival circuit. He also wrote and directed one segment in the Quebec-made, French-language anthology pic “Cosmos,” which screened at the Directors Fortnight in Cannes two years ago.

“Two Thousand and None” received funding from federal funder Telefilm Canada, Quebec funding agency SODEC, Super Ecran, the Movie Network, Superchannel, City-TV and Pandora Cinema.

Lensing on the pic is expected to wrap June 11.