Neon Acquires North American Rights to Pablo Berger’s First Animated Feature “Robot Dreams”

Pablo Berger’s dreams will bring him stateside…

Neon has acquired the North American rights to Robot Dreams, the first animated feature from the 60-year-old Spanish Goya Award-winning filmmaker.

Pablo BergerThe film premiered in the Special Screenings section of the Cannes Film Festival on Saturday, May 20th.

Robot DreamsBased on the award-winning graphic novel of the same name by Sara VaronRobot Dreams follows DOG, who lives in Manhattan and one day, tired of being alone, decides to build himself a robot, a companion. Their friendship blossoms, until they become inseparable, to the rhythm of ’80s NYC. One summer night, DOG, with great sadness, is forced to abandon ROBOT at the beach. Will they ever meet again?

Berger produced the film alongside Ibon Cormenzana, Ignasi Estapé, Sandra Tapia Diaz and Ángel Durández, with Jérôme Vidal, Sylvie Pialat and Benoit Quainon co-producing.

The acquisition, which is the first North American deal announced for a Cannes festival movie this edition, comes on the heels of Neon’s past triumphs at Cannes with three consecutive Palme d’Or winners: ParasiteTitane and Triangle of Sadness.

Berger’s previous projects include Torremolinos, Blancanieves and Abracadabra.

Lupa Filmes Releases First-Look Images of Cristian Ponce’s Survival Horror Film “A Mother’s Embrace”

Cristian Ponce is embracing the horror…

Brazil’s Lupa Filmes has released first-look images for the Argentine filmmaker’s upcoming survival horror A Mother’s Embrace ahead of its bow at the Cannes Film Festival’s Fantastic Pavilion, where genre industry professionals will also be treated to the sneak peak of the trailer.

Cristian PoncePreviously behind the animated web series The Kirlian Frequency, acquired by Netflix, in 2020 Ponce directed the big breakout film History of the Occult, which marked his feature debut.

The film was described as the highest-rated horror movie of 2021 on Letterboxd’s Year in Review roundup, as voted by users of the film rating social platform.

Cristian Ponce, A Mother's EmbraceSet in 1996, during one of the biggest storms to ever hit Rio de Janeiro, A Mother’s Embrace will see a team of firefighters trying to evacuate a nursing home at risk of collapsing. But its mysterious residents have other plans.

“Rio is known for its warm weather and beaches, but it also has this history of tropical storms and floods. When it rains, it pours,” says producer André Pereira. In 2017, he earned his horror stripes with The Trace We Leave Behind (O Rastro).

Cristian Ponce, A Mother's Embrace“We wanted this rain to feel different. Different from how it feels, say, in North American films. Here, rain is weird, it’s still hot and humid. For our makeup department, it meant a lot of sweat. Luckily, Cristian was always saying that he didn’t want these characters to be too pristine. In our film, rain is not soothing. It doesn’t make things better – it just makes them worse.”

“One of our biggest influences is John Carpenter, who always tells stories about people stuck in some places they cannot escape,” adds the director. Not just that – apart from the mayhem happening outside, his characters are trying to save strangers that don’t really want to be saved.

Cristian Ponce, A Mother's Embrace“We try to create our own mythology here. You could say that these people, who form a cult, are trying to live a ‘better’ life. But what it means can be very subjective.”

While not necessarily focusing on gore and favoring the growing sense of dread, as well as notions of paranoia, religion and existentialism, things will get dicey in the third act, he adds.

“There is mud… and eventually blood.”

The film, set over the course of one night – “Which translated to six weeks of night shoots. Our actors had to go through just about everything,” laughs Pereira – finished principal photography at the beginning of May. Marjorie Estiano, known for drama series Under Pressure and Locarno winner Good Manners, Chandelly Braz, Javier Drolas, Maria Volpe, Mel Nunes and Reynaldo Machado star.

Ponce and Pereira – who both co-wrote the script with Gabriela Capello – underline that the film represents a “true collaboration in Latin American genre.” Mexican Morbido Group’s Pablo Guisa Koestinger is also on board as co-producer.

“This week, you can see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 in every country in Latin America. If we want to find an audience for our local films too, it’s easier to form an alliance,” notes Ponce.

“It’s a good strategy, but what we also got out of it was this sense of brotherhood. Argentina and Brazil, we actually have a lot in common and we didn’t know that before we started to collaborate.”

Pereira agrees: “It’s time to break these borders because ultimately, we are so similar. At first, we were looking at each other, also with [executive producer] Mariana Muniz, thinking: ‘Is this going to work?’ Soon, our official language on set was Portuñol,” he says.

“It was a privilege to have this exchange and we want to do even more in the future. For us, the whole point of making horror films in Latin America is about bringing these different points of view and cultural heritage into our stories.”

Mía Maestro to Star in the Drama “Beneath the Grass”

Mía Maestro is ready to kick some grass

The 44-year-old Argentine actress and singer will star in Beneath the Grass, a drama about the criminal justice system and marijuana incarceration rates.

Mia MaestroMaestro will star opposite Quincy Isaiah and Jeff Kober in the film, which will hit the market at the Cannes Film Festival next week.

The film will begin production next month in New Jersey. Paradigm is representing worldwide sales for the film.

Beneath the Grass is set in 2008, capturing both the economic recession and the “Yes We Can” summer, and follows a single Latina mother whose illegal marijuana business is jeopardized when her young son befriends the new neighbors, a young white boy and his police officer grandfather.

According to production research, in 2008, Latino people were four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white people, while Black people were seven times more likely. Despite marijuana legalization in several states in the years since, the research explains, arrest rates have risen with racial disparities still prevalent.

The film marks the directorial debuts of William Bermudez and Sam Friedman, who wrote the screenplay, with a story by Bermudez, Friedman and others.

Following roles in The Motorcycle Diaries, Frida and the Twilight franchise, Maestro recently appeared in the Apple TV+ series Extrapolations and The Cow That Sang a Song Into the Future, which debuted at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.

She will next star in Jose Rivera’s Alina of Cuba, a biopic about Fidel Castro’s exiled daughter Alina Fernandez, directed by Miguel Bardem.

The cast also includes Rachel Ticotin, Rachel Stubington and newcomer Elizabeth Cuzzupoli.

First Trailer Released for Rodrigo Moreno’s Heist Comedy-Drama “The Delinquents”

Rodrigo Moreno is delinquent

The first official trailer has been released for the Argentinian filmmaker’s The Delinquents, as he returns to feature filmmaking.

Rodrigo MorenoThe heist comedy-drama is set to debut at Cannes Film Festival.

Billed as an “existential probe” into the work-life balance and what happens when it’s shattered and replaced with something radical and new, the film follows Morán, a bank employee in Buenos Aires who dreams up a risky plan to liberate himself and his co-worker Román from the shackles of working life: Morán will steal enough cash from the bank to fund their retirement if Román hides the money for him after he confesses and serves prison time; in three years’ time, they’ll reunite, split the cash, and never have to work again. Departing to the countryside to fulfill his side of the deal, the less adventurous Román finds himself transformed by Morán’s idyllic vision of economic liberation far from the rigors of urban life. But what is the true cost of freedom?

The film will debut in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes. Magnolia Pictures International is selling worldwide rights, including the US.

The film stars Argentinian actors Esteban Bigliardi, Daniel Elías, Margarita Molfino, Laura Paredes, Cecilia Rainero and Germán De Silva.

“Modern society has led us to live lives that we don’t want to live: there are so many obligations that strip our freedoms. The decision taken in my film invites us to escape this fate. The Delinquents is conceived as a film with light and humor,” Moreno said. “The story offers glimpses of life and not, as it could be expected from a film that takes on these issues, violence or darkness. These glimpses converge in fleeting romance, with poetry, in the enjoyment of rural life, in the establishment of a complicity between the protagonists.”

Moreno is best known for his 2012 feature The Custodian, which debuted at Berlin, played San Sebastian, and was nominated for three Argentinian Academy awards.

Pedro Pascal in Final Negotiations to Star in Paramount’s Untitled “Gladiator” Sequel

Pedro Pascal is ready to Rome

The 48-year-old Chilean actor is thisclose to joining the cast of the untitled Gladiator sequel for Paramount.

Pascal would join Paul Mescal, who will star as Lucius, as well as Barry Keoghan, Joseph Quinn, Connie Nielsen and Denzel Washington.

Ridley Scott is returning to direct.

Pascal’s role is unknown.

The new film follows the 2000 blockbuster Gladiator, which earned more than $460 million in worldwide box office and was nominated for 12 Oscars, winning five including Best Picture.

The role of Maximus, the Roman general-turned-gladiator, was a career-changer for Russell Crowe, not only delivering him the Best Actor Oscar but also launching him to the top of every leading-man list. Once it was made clear last year that the sequel would be Scott’s next movie, every male actor in town that fit the profile began chasing the part.

David Scarpa penned the script.

Also returning from the original film are John Mathieson (director of photography), Arthur Max (production designer) and Janty Yates (costume designer).

Paramount Pictures has dated the film for November 22, 2024.

The first film was co-production between Universal and DreamWorks, and while DreamWorks will not be involved in the sequel, Universal has the right to partner again when the project is packaged.

Pascal has been a major player following his scene-stealing role in his one season on Game of Thronesbut his star has blasted off following The Last of Uswhich has become one of the most popular shows in HBO’s history. While HBO is looking to get the show up and going next year, Pascal had been weighing a number of options to shoot before jumping back in to that and the opportunity on this film was too hard to pass up.

Besides The Last of Us, which will certainly have him in award season chatter this Emmy season, he also reprised his role on the Disney+ series The Mandalorianwhich just had its Season 3 finale last week.

Pascal can next be seen starring alongside Ethan Hawke in Pedro Almodovar’s short film Strange Way of Life, which will premiere at the Cannes Film Festival and will be distributed by Sony Pictures Classics this fall.

Additionally, Pascal is in Ethan Coen’s film Drive-Away Dolls, distributed by Focus Features and releasing in September. Pascal also stars in Anna Boden’s Freaky Tales, which is likely to come out later this year.

He also hosted Saturday Night Live earlier this year, earning rave reviews, and is also in contention for some Emmy love this awards season.

Sony Pictures Classics Acquires Worldwide Rights to Pedro Almodovar’s “Strange Way of Life,” Starring Pedro Pascal

Pedro Pascal’s strange way of life will be on full display globally…

Sony Pictures Classics has acquired the worldwide rights (outside of the UK, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Spain, Italy and Latin America) to Strange Way of Life, the buzzy short film starring the Chilean actor.

Pedro Pascal, Strange Way of LifeThe film, from Pedro Almodóvar, also stars Ethan Hawke.

The short will premiere as an official selection of the 2023 Cannes Film Festival.

The film, acquired at the pre-production phase, is slated for release this fall and will almost certainly be positioned for awards consideration, given the caliber of talent behind it.

Following two gunmen who reunite after 25 years, Strange Way of Life marks the latest in a long line of collaborations between Almodóvar and SPC, coming on the heels of the filmmaker’s first English-language project The Human Voice — a short also distributed by SPC, which starred Tilda Swinton.

Almodóvar describes the plot as follows: “A man rides a horse across the desert that separates him from Bitter Creek. He comes to visit Sheriff Jake. Twenty-five years earlier, both the sheriff and Silva, the rancher who rides out to meet him, worked together as hired gunmen. Silva visits him with the excuse of reuniting with his friend from his youth, and they do indeed celebrate their meeting, but the next morning Sheriff Jake tells him that the reason for his trip is not to go down the memory lane of their old friendship…”

Produced by Almodóvar’s El Deseo and presented by Saint Laurent by Anthony VaccarelloStrange Way of Life also stars Pedro Casablanc, Manu Ríos, George Steane, José Condessa, Jason Fernández and Sara Sálamo.

Agustín Almodóvar produced, with Esther García as executive producer, and Bárbara Peiró, Diego Pajuelo and Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello as associate producers.

Four-time Oscar nom and regular Almodóvar collaborator Alberto Iglesias penned the score, with Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello handling the costumes.

Manu Rios Signs with William Morris Endeavor (WME)

Manu Rios has new representation…

The 24-year-old Spanish actor and singer, best known for his starring role on Netflix’s popular Spanish YA series Elitehas signed with William Morris Endeavor (WME) for representation.

Manu RiosRios portrays Patrick Blanco on the international hit series, which is heading into its seventh season on the streamer.

Rios will next be seen starring alongside Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal in the upcoming short film Strange Way of Life from Oscar-winning director Pedro Almodóvar. The short is set to premiere at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. The story follows the reunion of an outlaw and a sheriff after 25 years apart, and the romance that followed them there.

Rios is also set to star in the upcoming Netflix limited series El Silencio from Aitor Gabilondo.

He was previously seen in the limited series La Edad de la Ira for Atresmedia.

Albert Serra Developing Bullfighting Documentary “Afternoons of Solitude”

Albert Serra is in a (bull)fighting mood…

The 47-year-old Spanish independent filmmaker plans to follow up his 2022 breakout film Pacifiction with Afternoons of Solitude, an impressionistic documentary that’ll explore bullfighting from the tormented perspective of the man in the ring.

Albert SerraBullfighting is one of the most excessive examples of the primitive origins of Southern European civilization,” Serra says of his longtime passion project. “It has a kind of showmanship on the edge of being art, and I like that idea. I like the violence of it. I like the pressure.”

“The film is about the spiritual pain of the torero,” he continues. “Of course we know about the animals’ suffering, but the humans involved suffer as well. I’m more focused on that than on the social debate about the practice.”

Produced by Serra’s longtime partners Luís Ferrón, Montse Triola and Pierre-Olivier Barde through their Andergraun Films banner, Afternoons of Solitude quietly began shooting last summer, and will pick up again in Seville, among other bullfighting meccas, once the season begins come spring.

Though Serra and crew will continue shooting through to fall, don’t expect the doc – which will recreate a series of acute mental states – to follow any kind of conventional production schedule.

“This is not a documentary where we follow the subjects for three days here and 10 days there, and then again three months later,” Serra says of his particular brand of slow cinema. “Instead, I want to be present, in the moment, living something unique while being able to manipulate, in a good sense, those feelings that intensify over this short period of time.”

“For me, this is where fantasy and fiction can evolve into something else,” he adds. “When you spend your time simply following people, it’s difficult to create that kind of fantasy, this kind of engagement. And I want to evolve the subject toward something very rough and wild and real. It’s a performance, after all.”

2022 proved to be something of a banner year for the Catalan auteur, who cracked the Cannes Film Festival competition for the first time, and later won France’s most prestigious film trophy, the Prix Louis-Delluc. Now banking on that greater renown, Serra is developing an English-language feature with international partners.

If many firm details remain distant and undefined (“My inspiration comes from being on set,” says Serra), the filmmaker envisions an English-language project with the same scope as Pacifiction and the same singular sensibility. “I will not renounce any elements of my style,” he promises. “And anyway, the new producers don’t want me to!”

Serra’s credits also include Story of My Death (2013), winner of the Golden Leopard at Locarno, Last Days of Louis XIV (2016), which won a Lumiere Award for best actor for Jean-Pierre Léaud, and Liberty (2019), which won the Special Jury Prize in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard section.

Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s “The Beasts” Wins Three Awards at Tokyo International Film Festival

Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s latest project has proved to be a beast in Japan…

The 41-year-old Spanish Goya Award-winning film director and screenwriter’s psychological thriller The Beasts has won three awards at this year’s Tokyo International Film Festival, including the Tokyo Grand Prix, best director and best actor for Denis Menochet.

Rodrigo SorogoyenThe film, which premiered in an Out Of Competition slot at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, follows a French couple who move to Spain’s Galician countryside to run an organic farm, but receive a hostile welcome from the locals.

The Tokyo Grand Prix prize comes with a cash award of Y3M (US$20,400).

Iranian filmmaker Houman Seyedi’s satirical drama World War III took the Special Jury Prize at the festival following its wins in Venice for best film and best actor in the Horizons section. Tokyo’s Special Jury Prize comes with a cash award of Y500,000 (US$3,400).

Best actress went to Aline Kuppenheim for her role in Manuela Martelli’s 1976, in which she plays a woman sheltering a man during Chile’s Pinochet dictatorship. The best artistic contribution award went to Sri Lankan film Peacock Lament, directed by Sanjeewa Pushpakumara.

The festival’s audience award went to Rikiya Imaizumi’s By The Window, about a man confronted by his wife’s affair, which was one of three Japanese films to be selected for the international competition.

In the festival’s Asian Future competition, the best film award went to Butterflies Live Only One Day, directed by Iranian filmmaker Mohammadreza Vatandoust, who was on hand to accept the award in person.

Mariah Carey Partners with Chopard to Launch “Happy Butterfly” Jewelry Collection

Mariah Carey is spreading her wings in celebration of the 25th anniversary reissue of her Butterfly album.

The 53-year-old half-Venezuelan American Grammy-winning singer has released a jewelry collection with Swiss luxury designer Chopard.

Mariah Carey, Chopard, Happy ButterflyThe “Happy Butterfly” collection includes 12 pieces featuring a butterfly crafted in “ethical rose and white gold” and is described in a release as having a “transparently openworked heart in which a dancing diamond nestles between two sapphire crystals.”

Bangles, pendants, rings, and earrings are available from $6,330 to $23,500.

Mariah Carey, Chopard, Happy ButterflyChopard is also releasing a one-of-a-kind asymmetrical diamond-paved “Haute Joaillerie” set for its Mariah Carey collection, consisting of a necklace, a pair of earrings, and a ring crafted with round-cut and heart-shaped diamonds and set in 18k white gold, which the brand says is “certified ethical.”

The pieces are co-signed by both the artist and Chopard co-president and artistic director Caroline Scheufele. Price available upon request.

“Mariah and I have been friends for many years and first connected through our love of jewelry and music. She performed at our party in Cannes in 2019, and we had always talked about designing together,” said Scheufele. The house’s creations are worn on red carpets around the world at events such as the Oscars and the Cannes Film Festival.

Mariah Carey, Chopard, Happy ButterflyScheufele described the Chopard “Happy Butterfly” collection as a modern butterfly design paired with Chopard’s iconic “Happy Diamonds,” which are free-floating stones that move around as the wearer does. “Since Mariah has a personal passion for unique pieces, we knew we wanted to do a few one-of-a-kind creations that would be truly exceptional. This led to an extraordinary diamond suite,” Scheufele said.

Carey, who has sold more than 200 million albums with No. 1 hits like “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” sees the butterfly as a metaphor for spreading her wings after her divorce from former manager Tommy Mottola.

She also has a Van Cleef & Arpels butterfly ring.