Celluloid Dreams of B-movies

Panahi unveils Modern Pulp label

Celluloid Dreams founder Hengameh Panahi has unveiled a new film initiative: Modern Pulp, a series of classy B-movies from directors like France’s Jean-Pierre Limosin, Hong Kong’s Johnnie To and Brazil’s Heitor Dhalia.

Celluloid Dreams world preems Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud’s “Chicken With Plums” in Venice Competition today.

Meanwhile, Panahi also has greenlit development on the next pic by Mona Achache (“The Hedgehog”).

Pic will be produced by Celluloid Dreams, the Manipulators and U Film, with Mathieu Amalric, Edouard Baer and Maria de Medeiros.

“Chicken With Plums,” Satrapi and Paronnaud’s follow-up to “Persepolis,” is budgeted at €11 million ($15.6 million), and required the studio to re-create parts of three Iranian cities.

Modern Pulp enables Panahi to experiment with new kinds of films adapted to tougher, contracting international sales markets.

First up for the shingle, Limosin will helm near back-to-back French-language mystery thrillers, “You Will Never Know Why” and “Human Steps.”

Based on a French novel and written by Limosin, “Know” is a cat-and-mouse two-hander between a woman who sequesters a cop to force him to confess a crime. “Know” shoots early 2012 and boasts a “big twist” finale, Panahi said.

In “Steps,” a cop pursues a supposed thief into a forest where their relationship evolves.

Dhalia’s previously announced thriller love-story, “A Girl and a Gun,” set up at Celluloid Dreams Brazil, is another Modern Pulp title.

To’s project has yet to be unveiled. But all pics will shoot digitally without big-name stars and on reduced skeds with small crews. The music-filled pics will still be “cinema films,” Panahi insisted.

“It’s great to make big movies and B-movies: The in-between is tough,” Panahi said. “I imagine a collection of great movies from great directors that are nevertheless cheap to make and distributors can make money on.”

Meanwhile, Achache and Yann Le Gal will deliver the screenplay for Achache’s untitled next pic by the end of the year. It’s a “very emotional, playful comedy,” Panahi said, about five encounters over the years — probably in different countries — between a forty-something man and 20-year-old woman. Pic rolls 2012.

Before “Gun” and after wrapping the Sierra-sold “Gone,” Dhalia will shoot “Bald Mountain.” Set up at CDB, where Panahi partners with Patrick Siaretta and Dhalia, “Mountain” unspools at an Amazonian gold mine, based on true facts. Warner Bros. will distribute in Brazil and Latin America, Siaretta said. It will shoot end of 2012, toplining Wagner Moura, star of Brazilian B.O. behemoth “Elite Squad.”

NOTE: Celluloid Dreams sold “Persepolis” internationally. It was produced by 2.4.7. Films. Information in Sept. 2 Venice daily was incorrect.