Mathieu Kassovitz heads into space, after war

French director to make 'Rebellion,' 'MNP'

CANNES -- French director Mathieu Kassovitz is heading to war, then into space with upcoming titles "Rebellion" and "MNP," produced by the director's production house MNP Entreprise.

Kassovitz will both star in and direct "Rebellion," based on the true story of French commandoes who clashed with tribal dwellers in the South Pacific territory of New Caledonia in 1988. The 15 million euros ($23.5 million) film, co-produced by UGC and Orange's film subsidiary Studio 37 and featuring an all-French A-list cast, will start shooting at the end of the year. After "Assassins" (1992) and "Cafe au Lait" (1993), Kassovitz will be back in his double role as actor-director in the "100% real" story about "10 days of hell" in New Caledonia.

"I'm coming back to something I can have control over, that's close to who I am as a Frenchman," Kassovitz said.

After rising to fame in Gaul, then making a name for himself stateside -- both behind the camera ("Gothika" starring Halle Berry) and on screen (Steven Spielberg's "Munich") -- Kassovitz will take on planet earth in "MNP," a big-budget pic set on a space station.

"MNP," the name of both the first space station and Kassovitz's indie shingle with co-producer Benoit Jaubert, will feature two U.S. stars and eight actors from around the world.

The technologically heavy "end of the world" project will utilize special planes that are able to simulate a zero gravity environment for 25 seconds. MNP will work closely with space stations and aeronautical organizations to prepare for the complex project that is set to start shooting in 2011.

"This is my ultimate movie. Everything we've done until now has been preparing us to be able make this movie," Kassovitz said.

Before the end of the world, however, MNP has a slate of high-profile projects on deck. The Paris-based company was founded in 2000 to produce both Kassovitz' own movies and those of new and up-and-coming directors and has been making waves both at home and abroad.

MNP is finishing the script and starting visuals on the 25 million euros ($39.1 million) animated feature "The Beast Is Dead," based on a cartoon book in which World War II is retold through the eyes of animals who represent the various groups involved.

MNP's "Johnny Mad Dog," about child soldiers in war-torn Africa, screened Tuesday night in the Un Certain Regard category. TF1 International is handling sales for the buzzed-about English-language film at this year's Marche du Film and MNP, who put up one-third of the $4 million budget, is hoping to sell the project across the board.

MNP is multiplying its production efforts with plans to mix things up with French stories, joint ventures with other European companies and all-American films for U.S. studios.
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