Helmer team gets together to 'Love' N.Y.

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Producer Emmanuel Benbihy has assembled a who's who of hot helmers to head to New York to shoot his upcoming project "New York, I Love You," including Zach Braff, Mira Nair, Park Chan-wook and Fatih Akin.

Benbihy ("Paris, je t'aime") said in an interview that other directors signed to contribute to the $14 million project are Yvan Attal, Wang Xiaoshuai, Emanuele Crialese, Albert and Allen Hughes and Andrey Zvyagintsev.

Three more directors are to be added to the 12-strong lineup on the movie that has the support of the city and state of New York and is co-produced by Benbihy's producer partner Marianne Maddalena, whose credits include Wes Craven's "The Hills Have Eyes" and the "Scream" trilogy.

The project also has backing from the recently announced Future Films and Grand Army Entertainment funding pact (HR 5/16).

"With 'New York, I Love You,' we really want to surprise audiences with young, hip filmmakers with their own personal style and movie language," Benbihy said.

Producers are planning a first-quarter 2008 delivery, with plans to submit the movie to unspool at next year's Festival de Cannes.

Each director will create a five-minute segment about a love encounter in a district of the five boroughs for a 100-minute final cut.

"The idea is to give the impression of a community of directors," Benbihy said.

A 13th, as yet unchosen, filmmaker will fashion a series of the transition sequences to make the movie more fluid than "Paris, je t'aime," which followed the same premise in a Paris setting and premiered at Cannes last year.

With no credits to be shown until the end of the film, the audience will have a single narrative experience.

"Hopefully, with 'New York, I Love You,' critics will have more difficulty choosing their favorite or least favorite segments. They'll all be good," Benbihy said. "We want to give the illusion of unity as much as possible and bring the narrative challenge a step further."

The film, unlike its mostly French-language predecessor, will be shot almost entirely in English. "We'll try to be as representative of the city as possible, that's the idea," Benbihy said.

Benbihy also is sketching plans for "China, I Love You," aiming for summer 2008.

"We hope we've started a new movement in cinema, a different way to make movies," Benbihy said.

The producer wants to roll out a series of U.S.-based projects for foreign directors who want to shoot in the territory.

He added: "The Cities of Love concept is about people. It has nothing to do with politics. We want to show that love is universal. It's the right time to say 'New York, I Love You.' "
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