Art and Experience: French mini-major MK2 Films has acquired all rights to late Iranian film master Abbas Kiarostami’s first 20 movies.
Under the agreement – signed with the Institute Kanoon (Institut iranien pour le Développement Intellectuel des Enfants et des Adolescents), MK2 will restore the 20 films of Kiarostami in 4K. Among the acquired titles are “Where is My Friend’s Home,””And Life Goes On” and “The Traveler,” Kiarostami’s first feature film.
“And Life Goes On” complete the trilogy including “Where is My Friend’s House?” and “Through the Olive Trees,” both of which are already acquired by MK2.
Some of the acquired titles include films that mostly unknown, as well as 14 short- and medium-length films, notably his very first film, “The Bread and Alley,” which came out in 1970.
MK2 now owns nearly all of Kiarostami’s films. The French company already detained rights to Kiarostami’s more recent films, notably “Like Someone in Love,””Certified Copy,” “Taste of Cherry” (which won the Palme d’Or 20 years ago) and Shirin, among others.
“MK2 had a very close relationship with Abbas Kiarostami. We produced and distributed his films since 1999,” said Karmitz, MK2’s president who is running the vertically-integrated company with his two sons, Nathanael and Elisha Karmitz.
“This collaboration with the Institut Kanoon will allow us to give every generation of audiences the opportunity to discover these world cinema masterpieces that have inspired and continue to inspire filmmakers and cinefiles for the last 30 years,” said Karmitz, who added that Kiarostami gave birth to the tradition of Iranian documentary.
MK2 had started working with Kiarostami on a new feature before he passed last year. The movies was due to start shooting last September in China.
Cannes Film Festival is paying tribute to Kiarostami with the screening of his last feature “24 Frames” as part of the special screenings of the festival’s 70th anniversary on Tuesday.
Karmitz said MK2 was exploring many possibilities to give the newly-acquired films some exposure. The company runs a thriving international sales division as well as France’s leading arthouse theater circuit in Paris.
MK2’s library now comprises over 400 films from some of the world’s best known auteurs, notably Charles Chaplin, François Truffaut, Krzysztof Kieslowski, David Lynch, Claude Chabrol, Alain Resnais, Xavier Dolan, Olivier Assayas, Kiarostami, as well as Agnes Varda and Jacques Demy.
“Through these films, MK2 perpetuates the heritage of world cinema. We remain the biggest co-producer and distributor of foreign films,” pointed out Karmitz.
The veteran producer and businessman explained the company’s growth going forward is increasingly vested in its exhibition activities. MK2 owns theaters in France, Spain and is considering opening some in Montreal. The banner also recently bowed a venue dedicated to virtual reality and launched international sales of director-driven VR content at Cannes.