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Cannes: Kino Lorber Scoops U.S. Rights to Jia Zhangke’s ‘Mountains’ (EXCLUSIVE)

MK2 has nearly sold the film worldwide

Mountains May Depart Cannes Film Festival
Courtesy of Cannes Film Festival

Beating several distribs to the chase, Kino Lorber has acquired U.S. rights to “Mountains May Depart,” the episodic drama by Chinese auteur Jia Zhangke. The film played in competition Wednesday in Cannes.

The film is sold by France’s MK2, which represented the director’s previous picture “A Touch of Sin,” which was in Cannes’ competition in 2013.

At Cannes, MK2 also sold “Mountains May Depart” to Switzerland (Filmcoopi), Korea (JinJin Pictures), Poland (Against Gravity) and Colombia (Babilla).

Previous sales were closed for Canada (Films We Like), Spain (Golem), Italy (Cinema), Benelux (Cinemien), Greece (Ama), Taiwan (Joint entertainment), Brazil (Imovision), Middle East (Moving Turtle), South East Asia (Astro), Turkey (Calinos), Inflight (Encore), Tunisia (Hakka), Ex Yugoslavia (MCF Megacom), Portugal (Midas).

Other territories such as Scandinavia, Switzerland, the U.K. and Argentina are in discussions, per Juliette Schrameck, MK2’s head of international sales.

Kino Lorber is familiar with Zhangke’s work, having handled the U.S. release of “Sin.” The movie dealt with inflammatory themes such as local government corruption, prostitution and the suicides of overworked factory employees. While that made “Sin” an insightful document lapped up by international festivals and distributors, its Chinese release was always going to be problematic – despite state-owned enterprise Shanghai Media Group among its investors.

The film’s DVD release in the U.S. was complicated and initially held back in order to wait for the theatrical release in China. However, “Sin” remains unreleased in China and Lorber and other distributors worldwide have since gone ahead with DVD and online releases.

“Mountains” documents significant social change in fast-developing China, and leaps forward to a not entirely utopian future, set in Australia. But it is far less stridently critical of China’s central government and will pose fewer problems for distributors.

“Mountains” is produced by Shanghai Film Group Corp., Xstream Pictures, MK Prods., Beijing Runjin Investment, Office Kitano with Ren Zhonglun, Jia Zhangke, Nathanel Karmitz, Liu Shiyu, Shozo Ichiyama taking producer credits.

Ad Vitam, which released “A Touch of Sin,” in France will again handle the French distribution of “Mountains.”