By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood May 17, 2013 at 2:24PM
Ahead of its first Cannes market screening, Chicago-based Music Box Films has picked up all US and Canadian rights to Arnaud des Pallières' competition title "Michael Kohlhaas," starring Mads Mikkelsen and adapted from the 1811 Heinrich von Kleist classic Romantic novel. Films du Losange is selling the film, which is Des Pallières' fourth feature, at Cannes.
Des Pallières describes the film as:
"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 ("Waltz with Bashir," "To Be and To Have") "Michael Kohlhaas" is Des Pallières' first film to have US distribution. Mikkelsen, who won best actor at Cannes for "The Hunt" and starred in Denmark's Oscar nominated "A Royal Affair," is joined by Bruno Ganz ("Downfall"), Dennis Lavant ("Holy Motors"), and Sergi López ("Pan's Labyrinth"). Von Kliest's book was previously adapted for film in 1969 by Volker Schlöndorff, and inspired 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."
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.
Founded in 2007, Music Box Films is one of the few arthouse distributors that releases multiple foreign films a year, along with Sony Pictures Classics, Weinstein Co., IFC and Magnolia. On its 2013 release slate are: Werner Herzog and Dmitry Vasyukov's "Happy People: A Year at the Taiga," Roger Michell's "Le Weekend," starring Jim Broadbent, and two World War II films, Cate Shortland's "Lore" and German "Generation War."
Past Music Box releases include the film adaptations of Stieg Larsson's "Millennium Trilogy": the first in the series,"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," which grossed over $10 million in US box office, was one of the most popular international releases of the last decade. More recent releases include Terence Davies' "The Deep Blue Sea" and Canada's Oscar-nominated "Monsieur Lazhar."