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Cannes: Music Box Takes 'Michael Kohlhaas'

Michael Kohlhaas
"Michael Kohlhaas"

Arnaud des Pallieres' film stars Mads Mikkelsen and Bruno Ganz.

Chicago-based Music Box Films has acquired all U.S. and Canadian rights to Arnaud des Pallieres' Michael Kohlhaas, starring Mads Mikkelsen, which will screen May 24 in competition at the Cannes Film Festival. A fourth quarter theatrical release is planned.

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Adapted from Heinrich von Kleist’s 19th century novel about a 17th century uprising, the film also stars Bruno Ganz, Dennis Lavant and Sergi Lopez. Von Kliest's book, considered a classic of German Romanticism, was previously adapted for film in 1969 by Volker Schlondorff, and served as the inspiration for E.L. Doctorow's Ragtime.

The film, des Pallières says, "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."

It was produced by Les Films d'Ici, and international sales are being handled by Films du Losange.

The deal was negotiated by Music Box acquisition consultant James Brown and Films du Losange international sales manager Agathe Valentin