Aitor Arregi, Jon Garaño & Jose Mari Goenaga Sign with The Gotham Group

Aitor Arregi, Jon Garaño and Jose Mari Goenaga are heading to the big leagues…

The Spanish directing trio, whose acclaimed film The Endless Trench is representing Spain in this year’s Oscar race, have signed with The Gotham Group.

Aitor Arregi, Jon Garaño & Jose Mari Goenaga

Set at the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, the film chronicles three decades of a country engulfed by fascism.

The film premiered at the San Sebastian Film Festival last year and Netflix acquired the global rights shortly after; the streamer debuted the film in the U.S. on November 6.

It received 15 Goya nominations, winning Best Director and the Jury Prize for Best Screenplay.

Arregi, Garaño and Goenaga have been working together for 15 years through their company Moriarti; this is the first time they have co-directed as a trio.

Their previous credits include Handia, which won 10 Goyas, and Loreak (Flowers), which was Spain’s entry for the 2016 Oscars.

They are now developing their English-language debut, which Gotham will launch to buyers in 2021.

Aislinn Derbez Joins Voice Cast of Netflix’s Animated Comedy “Back To The Outback”

Aislinn Derbez is headed Down Under

The 33-year-old Mexican actress has joined the voice cast of Netflix’s animated comedy film Back To The Outback.

Aislinn Derbez

She joins a cast that includes Isla FisherTim MinchinEric BanaGuy Pearce, Miranda Tapsell, Angus Imrie, Rachel HouseKeith Urban, Celeste Barber, Wayne Knight, Diesel Cash La Torraca, Lachlan Ross Power, and Oscar-nominee Jacki Weaver.

In the movie, tired of being locked in a reptile house where humans gawk at them like they’re monsters, a ragtag group of Australia’s deadliest creatures plot a daring escape from their zoo to the Outback, a place where they’ll fit in without being judged for their scales and fangs.

Leading the group is Maddie (Fisher), a poisonous snake with a heart of gold, who bands together with a self-assured Thorny Devil lizard Zoe (Tapsell), a lovelorn hairy spider Frank (Pearce), and a sensitive scorpion Nigel (Imrie). But when their nemesis — Pretty Boy (Minchin), a cute but obnoxious koala — unexpectedly joins their escape, Maddie and the gang have no choice but to take him with them.

The film is due to launch in fall 2021. The comedy adventure marks the directorial debuts of filmmakers Clare Knight and Harry Cripps, who penned the script.

Music will come from Rupert Gregson-Williams and songs will be by Minchin (Broadway’s Matilda). Animation and imagery will come from ReelFX.

Said director Knight: “I have always been touched by stories of hidden beauty. Maddie is both uniquely beauty and beast, and to get to present that message in comedy is the icing on the cake.”

Added writer-director Cripps: “Growing up in Australia, I spent a lot of time in the Blue Mountains which has many different types of snakes and spiders, and I always preferred them to the cute cuddly animals, so it’s such a treat to make a film where the heroes are these poisonous but beautiful little creatures. This film is a love letter to Australia’s incredibly diverse and unique wildlife.”

Porta dos Fundos Releases Trailer for Its Latest Christmas Special, “The Edge of Theocracy”

Porta dos Fundos is readying for its latest Christmas special…

The controversial hit Brazilian comedy troupe will release its annual Christmas Special, The Edge of Theocracy, on December 10.

Porta dos Fundos

A play on Petra Costa’s Oscar-nominated documentary, The Edge of Democracy, a trailer released on November 20 on its dedicated YouTube channel lured more than 300,000 views in three days.

Porta dos Fundos’ Christmas specials are renowned for their ironic, some would argue profane, take on the life of Christ.

Taking its cue from Costa’s The Edge of Democracy, which points to Brazil’s spiral into far-right politics as a cautionary tale to the world, The Edge of Theocracy satirizes Brazil’s political scene and delivers tart comments on global issues, like polarization, through the prism of Biblical events thousands of years ago. A delighted Costa gave her blessing and makes a brief appearance as herself in the show.

Shot in less than a week, the troupe opted for the documentary format in order to better adhere to COVID-19 safety protocols. The use of talking heads and testimonials were the perfect solution to rules on social distancing, said co-founder/writer Fabio Porchat, who spoke to Variety while filming some scenes outdoors last September.

Porchat, who plays Jesus, was standing in the middle of a field in sweltering 95F (35C) heat, with trees and mountains in the distance, while just behind him, his actors were playing out some scenes.

Their 2019 Xmas special, The First Temptation of Christ, featured a gay Christ, which unleashed a firestorm of complaints, a petition to ban the special signed by more than two million people and worst of all, a Molotov cocktail on their headquarters, which caused a fire that was fortunately put out by alert security guards.

“This is our seventh Christmas Special and they’ve always been provocative; only last year’s special produced a backlash,” he pointed out, suggesting that being the first one released during the tenure of current populist President Jair Bolsonaro made it a target. “His government is promoting fundamentalist religious thought,” he asserted.

There were some calls to cancel Netflix subscriptions, which the trailer cheekily refers to. “If you cancelled Netflix, get ready to cancel YouTube,” it declares, signaling the troupe’s return to their dedicated YouTube channel.

Their last two Christmas Specials, The First Temptation of Christ and The Last Hangover,” were Netflix Originals. The latter won a Best Comedy International Emmy in 2019.

“We reach a bigger audience on YouTube,” said Porchat who added that ViacomCBS, which took a majority stake in Porta dos Fundos in 2017, co-produced this year’s special with Porta dos Fundos.

Porchat admitted that the bombing of their headquarters raised their international profile so he’s grateful for that.

He is a self-confessed Monty Python fan, especially their irreverent comedy about a hapless man who is mistaken for the Messiah, Life of Brian. “We don’t insult the Bible, we research the subject matter quite extensively,” he noted.

No one is spared their satirical touch, including Buddha, Shiva and some alien creature who replies, “Ask Tom Cruise!” when asked to explain what he is in The First Temptation of Christ.

In The Edge of Theocracy various “messiahs” weigh in on an investigation of Jesus’ legitimacy.

The new special promises to be a gleeful poke in the eye to the troupe’s critics.

HBO Max Picks Up First Season of Daniela Vega’s Spanish-Language Thriller “La Jauria”

Daniela Vega is maxing out…

WarnerMedia streaming service HBO Max has picked up the first season of La Jauría, Amazon Prime Video’s Spanish-language thriller starring the 31-year-old Chilean actress and mezzo-soprano singer.

Daniela Vega

Hailing from Pablo and Juan de Dios Larraín’s Fabula, which made the Oscar-winning A Fantastic Woman, the series tells the story of the disappearance of a young girl, who becomes the center of a police investigation into an online game that grooms men into assaulting women.

HBO Max will premiere the eight-part series on December 16.

In addition to Vega, La Jauría also stars Antonia Zegers, while Lucía Puenzo is the director. Fremantle produced the show alongside Fabula and Argentine company Kapow. Fremantle handles worldwide distribution.

Amazon commissioned a second season of La Jauría in July after premiering it across Latin America and Spain. Chilean public broadcaster TVN and the Consejo Nacional de Televisión (CNTV) are co-producers.

“It’s a gripping, compelling and timely drama that addresses important topical issues regarding the epidemic of violence against women. We are confident HBO’s audience will be moved by the standout storyline and the powerful performances,” said Sheila Aguirre, EVP of content distribution and format sales, Latin America, international, Fremantle.

Chile Selects Maite Alberdi’s “The Mole Agent” for International Oscar Consideration

Maite Alberdi’s name has been thrown in the Oscar ring…

The 37-year-old Chilean producer, director, documentarian and screenwriter’s documentary The Mole Agent will represent Chile in the International Oscar race this year.

The Mole Agent

The film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival back in January. It follows a private investigator in Chile who hires someone to work as a mole at a retirement home where a client of his suspects the caretakers of elder abuse. Marcela Santibañez produced.

Gravitas Ventures is handling U.S. rights on the film, which is now streaming on Hulu. The movie will launch on POV on January 25.

The deadline for submissions to the Oscar race is December 1, with the 2021 ceremony scheduled to take place on April 25. The shortlist for the International Oscar will be unveiled February 9 and nominations will be announced March 15.

Luis Guzmán to Appear on Season 2 of Starz’s Crime Drama Series “Hightown”

Luis Guzmán is coming to (High)town

The 64-year-old Puerto Rican actor has been cast for a season-long arc on the second season of Starz’s crime drama series Hightown, starring Monica Raymund, from Jerry Bruckheimer and Lionsgate Television.

Luis Guzman

Production is currently underway on the 10-episode second season of the series created by Rebecca Cutter, who will make her television directorial debut this season. Oscar–nominated filmmaker Rachel Morrison will return to direct two episodes. Raymund, Dawn WilkinsonRadium Cheung and Eagle Egilsson are also tapped to direct this season.

Guzmán will play Jorge Cuevas, Frankie’s (Amaury Nolasco) cousin. A charming and hilarious yet dangerous sociopath. Also joining the recurring cast are Jona Xiao as Daisy, a stripper at Xavier’s. Bubbly and working class with a hard edge. She’s got swag and can handle herself. Charline St. Charles as Henriette, first generation Haitian-American, wife of Sgt. Saintille (Dohn Norwood) and Dominic L. Santana as Chuleta, Jorge (Guzman) & Frankie’s (Nolasco) muscle.

They join returning cast members Raymund, James Badge Dale, Riley Voelkel, Nolasco, Atkins Estimond and Dohn Norwood. Tonya Glanz also returns in a heavily recurring role as Leslie Babcock, Jackie’s (Raymund) partner in the Narcotics Unit.

“I’m so in love with this cast and the way they brought my vision to life in Season One,” said Cutter, who recently entered an overall deal with Lionsgate Television. “Now I feel inspired to create in a whole new way, through directing. I will be learning from some of the best in the business – Rachel Morrison and Monica Raymund — and I can’t wait to showcase Cape Cod in a new light as we focus on the off-season. We are thrilled to be back in production and bringing you the next chapter in this story.”

Mexico Enters Fernando Frías de la Parra’s “I’m No Longer Here” into International Feature Film Oscar Race

Fernando Frías de la Parra is representing…

The Mexican Academy of Cinematographic Arts and Sciences has chosen the Mexican filmmaker’s I’m No Longer Here as Mexico’s official entry for the International Feature Film Oscar race.

Fernando Frías de la Parra

The film centers on the young leader (Juan Daniel Garcia Trevino) of a small Monterrey street gang from the Cholombiano subculture who longs for home after being forced to move to Jackson Heights, Queens, after an altercation with a local cartel. It premiered at the 2019 Morelia Film Festival, where it won Best Feature and was a selection of this year’s truncated Tribeca Film Festival.

The film received 10 Ariel Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, and is Mexico’s official submission for Spain’s Goya Awards.

I'm No Longer Here

Netflix acquired worldwide rights back in 2018, and it bowed on the streamer on May 27.

“The news took me by surprise, and I am overwhelmed with happiness and excitement,” said Frias. “I am enormously grateful to the Academy and its members and the entire industry that has supported us, such as Netflix and IMCINE, but also to the people. The public has shown us that they are ready to connect with our stories here in Mexico. That fills me with pride.”

Mexico has seen nine film nominated for the Academy Awards’ International Feature race (it was formerly known as Outstanding Foreign-Language Feature) with films from the likes of Alejandro González Iñárritu and Guillermo del Toro. It’s only one the top prize once, however, for Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, also from Netflix, in 2018.

Guatemala Enters Jayro Bustamante’s “La Llorona” Into International Oscar Race

Jayro Bustamante could be bringing the horror to the Oscars…

The 43-year-old Guatemalan film director and screenwriter’s politically charged horror film La Llorona, which won the Venice Days sidebar at last year’s Venice Film Festival, is Guatemala’s selection to the 2021 International Oscar race.

Jayro Bustamante

It’s the second film by Bustamante to get his country’s Academy Awards submission, after his debut feature Ixcanul in 2015.

His latest film fuses the Latin American Llorona myth and modern reality in an exposé of the genocidal atrocities against the Mayan community in Guatemala.

The plot delves into magical realism as it follows Enrique (Julio Diaz), a retired general who oversaw the Mayan genocide and is haunted by his devastating crimes, and possibly a wrathful supernatural force that is targeting him and his family.

Rigoberta Menchú Tum, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and survivor of the atrocities, also appears in the film.

The film, which had its U.S. bow this year at the Sundance Film Festival ahead of its August 6 premiere on Shudder, currently has a 97% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Guatemala has yet to be nominated for the International Feature Film Oscar.

Spain Submits Aitor Arregi, Jon Garaño & Jose Mari Goenaga’s “The Endless Trench” in the International Oscar Race

Aitor Arregi, Jon Garaño and Jose Mari Goenaga’s names have been thrown into the Oscar race…

Spain has submitted period epic The Endless Trench, directed by the trio of Spanish filmmakers, as its contender for the 2021 International Oscar prize.

The Endless Trench

The film premiered at the San Sebastian Film Festival last year and Netflix swooped in to acquire its global rights shortly after; the streamer will debut the film in the U.S. on November 6.

The film spans three decades beginning at the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, chronicling a country taken by fascism.

It was nominated for 15 Goyas, Spain’s national cinema awards, winning two: best actress for Belén Cuesta and Best Sound.

The deadline for International Oscar submissions is December 1. The shortlist for the International Oscar will be unveiled on February 9 and nominations will be announced March 15, before the 2021 Academy Awards on April 25.

 Helena Bonham Carter to Star Opposite Pierce Brosnan in Rom-Com “Not Bloody Likely”

 Helena Bonham Carter is preparing to Doolittle

The 54-year-old part Spanish actress will star opposite Pierce Brosnan in Not Bloody Likely, a romantic comedy exploring the true story of the 1914 West End production of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion.

Helena Bonham Carter

In the film, Shaw (Brosnan) has written his masterpiece Pygmalion (which would later be adapted into the Oscar-winning musical My Fair Lady) and is determined for the great Mrs. Pat Campbell (Bonham Carter) to play the role of Eliza Doolittle. But is her casting just a chance for Shaw to rekindle his once great love, the one that got away?

Joel Hopkins has written and is directing the film, he previously helmed the comedy The Love Punch starring Brosnan.

Production is set for the UK in Spring 2021.

The pairing of Bonham Carter, coming off the back of The Crown and Enola Holmes, with Brosnan, who was in Eurovision Song Contest: The Story Of Fire Saga this year and has Cinderella coming up, should be a hot one; and word on the street right now is that comedy is high in demand after the bruising year that has been 2020.

“This is exactly the kind of film the world needs right now. A feel-good story that will make you laugh and make you cry for the right reasons. We can’t wait to get started,” said producers Rolston and Braithwaite.

“Joel’s wonderfully entertaining script breathes new life into the most beloved of Shaw’s plays and the casting of Helena Bonham Carter and Pierce Brosnan will make this a strong commercial proposition for buyers around the world,” added Cornerstone’s Alison Thompson and Mark Gooder.