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Lakeshore’s RAI tie

Deals sealed until last minute at Cannes

CANNES — International players continued wheeling and dealing right up to the last moment at the Cannes Film Festival, which wrapped Saturday.

Over dinner Friday night at the Hotel du Cap, near Cannes, helmer Pedro Almodovar and Antonio Banderas reaffirmed their commitment to the Spanish-lingo “Tarantula,” an adaptation of Thierry Jonquet’s French novel “Mygale,” about a plastic surgeon’s revenge.

Almodovar is writing the screenplay. The femme lead is earmarked for Penelope Cruz.

Meanwhile, Lakeshore Entertainment strengthened its relationship with Italian pubcaster film unit RAI Cinema by inking to handle U.S. and international sales on veteran director Ermanno Olmi’s next feature, “Singing Behind the Screens.”

Set in 17th century China, the drama concerns a pirate chief’s widow who takes over his role.

Olmi will produce with Roberto Cicutto and Luigi Musini for the director’s CinemaUndici stable and RAI Cinema, with Pierre Grise Prods. as co-producer.

BIM buying spree

Italian arthouse player BIM Distribuzione continued a buying spree by closing deals on seven more films, including Grand Jury Prize winner “The Man Without a Past,” by Aki Kaurismaki.

BIM topper Valerio De Paolis picked up the Finnish comedy-drama from Bavaria Film Intl. Acquisition deals also were concluded with Mercure Distribution on Nicolas Philibert’s documentary “To Be and to Have,” screening in an out-of-competition slot; and on Cedric Klapisch’s hot market title “L’Auberge Espagnole,” from Wild Bunch.

BIM continued its acquisitions frenzy with a three-title package from FilmFour: jury member Walter Salles’ biopic on the young Che Guevara, “The Motorcycle Diaries,” with Gael Garcia Bernal (“Y tu mama tambien”) in the lead; Conor McPherson’s “The Actors,” with Michael Caine, Miranda Richardson and Michael Gambon, which goes out via Miramax in the U.S.; and Shane Meadows’ family saga “Once Upon a Time in the Midlands,” which bowed in the Directors Fortnight.

In a multiterritory deal covering France, the U.K., Germany, Spain, Greece and Benelux, French banner MK2 picked up all distribution rights to Italian director Roberta Torre’s love triangle pic “Angela,” which premiered in the Directors Fortnight.

Italian rights were acquired by Lucky Red on the eve of the film’s Cannes bow.

‘Respiro’ breathes easy

Other Italian titles that kept the ink flowing on deal memos included Critics Week winner “Respiro” (“Grazia’s Island”), a family drama set in a Sicilian island fishing village, directed by Emanuele Crialese.

Roissy Films sold the pic to Sony Pictures Classics for North America and closed deals for other key territories, with more in advanced negotiations.

Marco Bellocchio’s competition entry “The Religion Hour” scored sales for RAI Trade to Palace Film for Australia and New Zealand as part of a 10-film package. Deals also were concluded for France with Ocean Films and markets including Germany, Holland, Belgium, Portugal and Israel.

Palace’s Italian acquisitions for Australia and New Zealand also included “Respiro,” rock star-turned-director Luciano Ligabue’s “From Zero to Ten” and Matteo Garrone’s drama “The Embalmer,” all three produced by Domenico Procacci’s Fandango stable.

Sogepaq’s Asia deals

Spanish distribution and sales company Sogepaq closed a bevy of deals in the Far East.

Daniel Calparsoro’s war pic “Guerreros” is going to Japan (Gaga Communications), Korea (startup Cinestar), Taiwan (Spring Cinema), Hong Kong (Winson) and Thailand (MJC Entertainment).

Vicente Aranda’s historical meller “Mad Love” is going to Japan (Daiei) and Thailand (New World). Deals follow Gaga’s purchase of Luna’s “Stranded” at the AFM. The sci-fi pic sold to Thailand’s New World at Cannes.