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MUBI, in Cannes With ‘Port Authority,’ Steps Up Production Activity (EXCLUSIVE)

Streaming service MUBI — whose first production, transgender love story “Port Authority” from first-time director Danielle Lessovitz, is in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard — is stepping up film production activity. It now has plans for a 10-picture slate, including a film from French director Rachel Lang.

MUBI has boarded Lang’s “Mon Legionnaire,” her follow-up to “Baden Baden,” which launched in 2016 at Berlin and was MUBI’s first U.S. theatrical release. “Legionnaire,” a drama set against the backdrop of the Foreign Legion, is currently shooting.

Efe Cakarel, CEO of the arthouse streaming service, said he was delighted with Un Certain Regard’s plum Saturday evening slot for the premiere of “Port Authority,” which MUBI boarded in the development stage and co-financed with Rodrigo Teixeira’s RT Features and Martin Scorsese’s Sikelia, which executive produced. WME and France’s MK2 are selling the pic in Cannes, handling U.S. and international, respectively.

“When it comes to production, our approach is different,” said Cakarel, “because we are not trying to optimize the films we finance to come on MUBI exclusively. … We want to make sure that what’s best for the film is the highest possible return on investment for everyone.”

Cakarel said the mandate in the first year is to develop about 10 projects and produce two or three films with budgets of about $5 million in tandem with other producers, by initially taking a stake of “anywhere up to 30%” and then “put IN more and more capital in coming years and increase the team working on this slate.”

MUBI senior VP Bobby Allen, who is now fully focused on production, said he had high hopes for a “good theatrical release” for “Port Authority,” which is set in the world of New York’s LGBT Kiki ballroom scene. MUBI has long had a foot in both the streaming and theatrical release camps.

Allen also underlined that he sees MUBI as a “bridge” between English and non-English-language filmmaking, with a preference for U.S. indie films on the English-lingo side. “We really want to be present as producers in both markets,” he said.

The MUBI platform offers a lineup of 30 movies. A new title is added each day as another is removed.

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