By Ray Pride



Cannes, France… – May 17, 2013 – Chicago-based Music Box Films has acquired all US and Canadian rights to Arnaud des Pallières’ MICHAEL KOHLHAAS, starring Mads Mikkelsen and freely adapted from the 1811 Heinrich von Kleist novel, in advance of its first market screening. Films du Losange is handling international sales.

As director Arnaud des Pallières describes it, his story “is set in a period where an impoverished aristocracy precariously still clings to feudal privileges passed down since the Middle Ages, while in the towns, a new world is taking shape. The townspeople are educated, often wealthy, but politically almost powerless. Kohlhaas, a horse merchant, suffers an injustice at the hands of a young baron and demands his rights, but society lets him down. He reacts by suddenly, brutally declaring war on society. He chooses the path of violence, with a razor-sharp sense of justice as his only moral guideline.”

Produced by Les Films d’Ici, best known for documentaries such as WALTZ WITH BASHIR and TO BE AND TO HAVE, KOHLHAAS is Arnaud des Pallières’ 4th feature and first to have US distribution. In addition to international star Mads Mikkelsen (“Hannibal”A ROYAL AFFAIR), the cast also includes Bruno Ganz (DOWNFALL), Dennis Lavant (HOLY MOTORS) and Sergi López (PAN’S LABYRINTH). Von Kliest’s book is considered a classic of German Romanticism; it was previously adapted for film in 1969 by Volker Schlöndorff, and served as the inspiration for E.L. Doctorow’s “Ragtime”.

“It’s rare to see such a smart period action drama, and one that deals with themes that still resonate”, says Music Box Managing Director Edward Arentz. “It also doesn’t hurt to have such a compelling lead in Mads Mikkelsen. We expect KOHLHAAS to perform strongly on all platforms.”

The deal was negotiated by Music Box acquisition consultant James Brown and Films du Losange international sales manager Agathe Valentin. Music Box plans a fourth quarter 2013 theatrical release.

Agathe Valentin comments, “We are very pleased to work with Music Box Films for the first time, a company with such an excellent reputation.” Last year’s Films du Losange Cannes Competition entry AMOUR went on to win the Palm d’Or and the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon