EXCLUSIVE: Film premieres today (8) in Locarno competition.

Pierre Menahem’s MPM Film has boarded Jem Cohen’s Museum Hours, which has its world premiere in Locarno competition today.

The film is about an encounter between a museum guard at Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Art Museum and an enigmatic visitor. Canadian artist Mary Margaret O’Hara and Vienna-based actor Bobby Sommer star.

New York-based director Cohen says: “For some, the film will primarily be an engaging study of two adults whose relationship defies cinematic stereotypes; for others it will be a story-engendered portrait of the city of Vienna; for others, it will mostly serve as a meditation on the crossings between life and art and the museum as intermediary… All of these interpretations are valid and encouraged.”

The Austria-US production is produced by Paolo Calamita, Jem Cohen and Gabriele Kranzelbinder, with Patti Smith and Guy Picciotto serving as executive producers. Innovative Film, bm:ukk and ORF Film/Fernseh-Abkommen back the project.

“Museum Hours is one of the most stunning, unique and profoundly moving film experiences I’ve had in a long time. No doubt this thoughtful and poetic meditation on the miracle of life will hit some upscale arthouse distributors and festival programmers worldwide. Already invited to screen at many of the major film festivals of this fall, I feel honored and grateful to producer Paolo Calamita to entrust my expertise on international sales on such a powerful piece of art,” said Pierre Menahem of MPM Film.

“We are honored and excited to join forces with MPM, a company whose members are known and respected for their sensitivity, adventurousness, and independent spirit. It goes without saying that the partners bring with them an extraordinary degree of combined experience with some of the most respected entities in the film world, but it was at least as important to us to know that we are working with individuals who have a deep and thoughtful understanding of the film. This was evident from our first contact, and we are thrilled to be working with them,” added Paolo Calamita for Little Magnet Films.

MPM Film is a Paris-based production company formed by Marie-Pierre Macia and Juliette Lepoutre in 2007; the company partnered with Pierre Menahem (formerly of Celluloid Dreams) to launch an international sales operation. Past films sold include Historias by Julia Murat and La Sirga by William Vega.

Museum Hours will also screen at the forthcoming Viennale.

Cohen’s past films include Chain, Benjamin Smoke and Instrument.