MK2 Launches Promising New Talents at Cannes (EXCLUSIVE)

MK2, the French film producer-distributor that has a record five films competing at Cannes Film Festival, is launching a raft of daring feature debuts from a predominantly female group of filmmakers.

Regrouped under the label Next, MK2 has boarded international sales on Elsa Amiel’s “Pearl,” Mati Diop’s “The Fire Next Time,” Amandine Gay’s “Speak Up,” Caroline Poggi and Jonathan Vinel’s “Jessica Forever” and Virgil Vernier’s “Sophia Antipolis,” among others. As previously announced, MK2 is also repping Danielle Lessovitz’s “Port Authority,” Mikhael Hers’ “Amanda” and Rohena Gera’s “Sir,” which is world premiering at Critics’ Week.

“Since MK2 was founded in 1974, it’s always been a home for auteurs, such as Jia Zhangke, Pawel Pawlikowski, Xavier Dolan, Stephane Brizé and Robert Guediguian, and we’ve always aimed at showcasing films with singular perspective on the world,” said CEO Nathanael Karmitz. “This year, we’re looking forward to shining a spotlight on promising young talents from all over the world.” Citing Dolan, Miranda July and Yorgos Lanthimos, Karmitz said the company has striven to reveal talents.

Juliette Schrameck, managing director of MK2 Films, said the young talents who are part of MK2’s Next label share audacious perspectives on our world and innovate on an aesthetic level.

“We’re looking forward to launching the careers of these new directors who will surely be part of tomorrow’s auteurs,” said Schrameck.

Gay’s directorial debut, “Speak Up” is a documentary about black women in Europe. Gay said the documentary was inspired by Krzysztof Kieślowski’s “Talking Heads,” D. A. Pennebaker’s “Monterey Pop,” and Dionne Brand and Ginny Stikeman ‘s “Sisters in the Struggle,” about Canadian Afro-feminist women in the 1990s.

Amiel’s feature debut, “Pearl” explores the world of female bodybuilding through the story of a woman who reunites with her child after devoting her life to competition. Amiel said the long-gestating film aimed to “question the way women’s bodies are represented.”

Diop’s feature debut “The Fire Next Time,” meanwhile, follows a young woman from Dakar, Senegal, who has a one-night affair despite being engaged to another man.

“Jessica Forever,” a feature debut by Poggi and Vinel, centers on a woman caring for a group of ultra-violent, lonely individuals who come together as a family in order to survive.

Vernier’s second feature, “Sophia Antipolis” follows characters embroiled in a strange event that occurred at Sophia Antipolis, the French Riviera science research park.

Karmitz said Gera, whose “Sir” is playing at Critics Week, belongs to an exciting new generation of Indian filmmakers, following the footsteps of Ritesh Batra whose “The Lunchbox” was a highlight of 2013’s Critics’ Week and addressed contemporary social themes through romance.

This year’s Cannes Film Festival marks a fertile period for MK2, which has more films playing at the festival than any other French sales company. MK2’s five official competition entries are Jia’s “Ash Is the Purest White,”  Pawlikowski’s “Cold War” — both of which were co-produced by MK2 —  Brizé’s “At War,” Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s “Asako I & II” and Christophe Honoré’s “Sorry Angel.” And besides “Sir,” MK2 also has Pierre Salvadori’s “En Liberté” playing in Directors’ Fortnight.

MK2’s founder Marin Karmitz will receive a lifetime achievement tribute for his work in favor of auteur cinema at Cannes Film Festival on Friday, while his 1974 documentary film “Blow for Blow” will be screened as part of Cannes Classics the same day.

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