Cologne’s MMC Studios are currently giving Studio Babelsberg a run for its money in the no-holds barred competition for hosting attractive international projects with films by Istvan Szabo, Jean-Paul Rappeneau and Lasse Hallström lined up on its sound stages for the coming months

Speaking exclusively to ScreenDaily during this week’s Medienforum NRW, Bastie Griese, head of film production at the studios’ production arm MMC Independent, said that David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method, starring Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender and Vincent Cassel, had been shooting on three sound stages at MMC for six weeks. The interiors of apartments, Freud and Jung’s clinics and the upper deck of a luxury steamer had been built at the Cologne studios.
The shoot in North Rhine-Westphalia ended yesterday on location in Cologne, with the production now moving to Vienna for location work and then for two weeks to the German shores of Lake Constance which are standing in for Lake Zurich (Zürichsee).
The first of three international co-productions with MMC Independent as partner – Alex Winter’s The Gate 3D - will begin shooting from mid-August. This production continues the relationship begun with Andras Hamori’s H20 Motion Pictures on Stephen Frears’ 2008 film Cheri.
According to Griese, the $ 18m 3D family fantasy remake of Tibor Takacs’ 1987 cult movie will draw on the services of Charlotte Huggins (Journey To The Centre of the Earth) as 3D supervisor and have Pixomondo handling the film’s many visual effects at facilities in Frankfurt and Stuttgart.
Meanwhile, four sound stages at MMC’s studio complex in the Cologne suburb of Hürth will host Rappeneau’s Euros 22m Foreign Affairs, starring Gerard Depardieu and Louise Bourgoin, from September as MMC Independent’s second co-production this year.
The following month – October - will then see Hungary’s Istvan Szabo coming to Cologne for his adaptation of Magda Szabo’s bestseller The Door which will star Helen Mirren in one of the leads. In this case, MMC Independent is responsible for set construction and providing studio facilities.
And 2010 should come to an close with the start of shooting for MMC Independent’s third co-production – Lasse Hallström’s The Danish Girl - which already has Nicole Kidman attached as one of the film’s leads. Griese pointed out that MMC had discussed the project with LA-based Pretty Pictures a couple of years ago when a delegation of film producers and film funders accompanied NRW‘s prime minister Jürgen Rüttgers and media minister Andreas Krautscheid to California.
The Danish Girl will be produced by Senator Film Köln’s Ulf Israel with studio work at MMC and location shooting in North Rhine-Westphalia and Belgium.  
Griese added that he is currently negotiating to provide studio facilities for another two local German productions this year and is set to provide studio services for Sylvain Estibal’s comedy Das Schwein von Gaza (Le cochon de Gaza). The French-German-Belgian co-production is set to star Sasson Gabbai, Sebastian Koch, Markus Hering and European Parliament deputy Daniel Cohn-Bendit.