Immigration reform documentary Who Is Dayani Cristal?, from Marc Silver and actor/activist Gael García Bernal, has found U.S. distribution with Kino Lorber. The hot button pic will hit theaters in Spring 2014. The film shadows Bernal as he retraces the steps of an unidentified migrant worker known as Dayani Cristal, whose body was found along the Mexico-Arizona migrant trail dubbed “The corridor of death.” Seeking answers about the mystery traveler, Bernal embeds himself in the lives of border-crossing men, women, and children and witnesses the dangers they face, caught in the crossfire of America’s war on immigration. The Sundance cinematography award-winner and NYFF entry sold international rights out of Park City in January. Pulse Films and Canana Films produced the film with support from Impact Partners, Candescent Films, Ford Foundation, BRITDOC Foundation, OAK Foundation, and the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Fund. Producers are Lucas Ochoa, Thomas Benski, and Gael García Bernal. “Clichés about the political meeting the personal evaporate as we share Gael’s journey on the trail of human tragedy, wrought by broken government policy and racial paranoia,” said Kino Lorber CEO Richard Lorber, who negotiated the deal at AFM with Elizabeth Sheldon and Submarine’s Josh Braun.
Participant Media launched Participant PanAmerica to develop and co-finance 10-12 Spanish-language films a year with Mexico’s Canana, Chile’s Fabula and Colombia’s Dynamo, at the Berlin Film Festival in February. The entity has now identified its first project with El Ardor. Directed by Pablo Fendrik (Blood Appears, The Mugger), the film is currently shooting in Argentina and stars Gael García Bernal and Alice Braga. Fendrik, whose previous features were both Cannes Critics’ Week selections, wrote the screenplay about a mysterious man who emerges from the Argentinian rainforest to rescue the kidnapped daughter of a poor farmer after mercenaries murder her father and take over his property.
With 5 new movies screening just on Saturday alone with many of their stars and filmmakers in tow, co-presidents Michael Barker and Tom Bernard of Sony Pictures Classics are dominating much of the conversation and eyeballs at the 39th Telluride Film Festival. Playing today were SPC’s Cannes sensations Rust & Bone accompanied by star Marion Cotillard, and Palme d’Or winner Amour, whose filmmakers aren’t here. Plus 2013 planned releases No (winner of the Director’s Fortnight in Cannes) and its star Gael Garcia Bernal, and the father/son drama At Any Price whose Dennis Quaid and writer/director Ramin Bahrani are here without Zac Efron. Plus, the remarkable Israeli documentary The Gatekeepers. Barker and Bernard have been coming to Telluride for decades and strongly believe in the value of the festival. “I think anywhere from three to five movies is a good number” to bring here, he told me. And when they aren’t showing their own product, they have been seen at screenings checking out acquisition titles. They also held SPC’s annual filmmakers dinner Saturday night at La Marmotte restaurant.
But other top indie divisions of the majors are virtually sitting out this year’s fest. Telluride regular Fox Searchlight doesn’t have a single film on display here this year, though not for lack of trying. Searchlight has launched movies like Slumdog Millionaire, Juno and last year’s The Descendants among many others at Telluride – and this time wanted to bring their big awards hopeful, The Sessions starring John Hawkes and Helen Hunt. But Telluride generally frowns on movies that first debuted at Sundance. So the only Searchlight presence are reps checking out films for sale.
The Weinstein Company normally shows off their top titles, but only brought the undated musical The Sapphires (first seen at Cannes in May). It’s playing well at screenings here. No The Master. No Silver Linings Playbook. Both those movies will be in Toronto. However Weinstein in years past launched Best Picture winners The King’s Speech and The Artist at Telluride.
True, Universal’s arthouse division Focus Features this year is front and center with Hyde Park On Hudson. Its star Bill Murray hit town today and co-star Laura Linney lives here and is attending the fest. But Focus is saving another awards title, Anna Karenina, for a Toronto debut. Paramount, which has been here in the past, skipped Telluride and will miss Toronto in favor of debuting their awards players Flight and Not Fade Away at the New York Film Festival.
Deadline revealed last night that Sony Pictures Classics was in talks to acquire Pablo Larrain’s No, and now they’ve formalized the deal. Here’s the official announcement:
CANNES (May 22, 2012) – Sony Pictures Classics has acquired all North American rights to Pablo Larraín’s Cannes Directors’ Fortnight sensation, NO from financier Participant Media in association with Funny Balloons and Fabula. NO stars Gael García Bernal (Babel, The Motorcycle Diaries), Alfredo Castro, Antónia Zegers, Marcial Tagle, Néstor Cantillana, Jaime Vadell and Pascal Montero. The film is one of the best received films in Cannes with raves from critics following the first screening in Director’s Fortnight.