Benbihy to bring 'Love' to Chinese

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BERLIN -- The producer behind the portmanteau movie "Paris, je t'aime" is extending the franchise to China, with a view to releasing a 12-part multiple-director picture about the People's Republic to coincide with the World Expo in Shanghai in 2010.

To avoid any perception of the film being state propaganda, producer Emmanuel Benbihy said the directors will be seeking individual portraits and stories about everyday people. "It's 'I love the Chinese people' rather than 'I love China,' " he said.

The film will be produced by Benbihy and Marianne Maddalena ("Scream") and is penciled in to shoot in 2008.

The pair will first go into production on the already announced "New York, I Love You," also a 12-segment omnibus that is loosely scheduled to shoot this summer and fall in the Big Apple. No directors have yet to be announced on either title.

"New York will be very much the young, upcoming generation of directors," Benbihy said. "For China, we're looking at great world filmmakers."

Both films will be in the $10 million-$15 million range, and Benbihy said he already has financial partners on board. "The priority is to secure a U.S. distributor for both titles, rather than assemble a multipartner European co-production," he said. The New York picture expects to tap heavily into local shooting incentives, as does the China film. "We're looking for the maximum possible funding from Chinese authorities," Benbihy said.

"Paris, je t'aime" featured an impressive lineup of filmmaking talent including Alexander Payne, Wes Craven, Alfonso Cuaron, Gus van Sant, Walter Salles, Tom Tykwer and the Coen brothers, together with an all-star cast.

Benbihy co-produced the Paris film with Claudie Ossard's Victoire International, but the two had a falling out on the eve of the movie's Festival de Cannes bow last year over differences on the final cut. The row was finally settled. "Paris" was picked up for the U.S. by First Look International.
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