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.

Latido Films Acquires Arantxa Echevarria’s “Chinas” for International Sales

Arantxa Echevarria’s latest project will be going global…

Latido Films has acquired the Spanish writer-director’s third feature film Chinas for international sales.

Arantxa EchevarriaEchevarria previously won the Goya Award for best new director in 2018 for her debut, Carmen & Lola.

“Arantxa Echevarria is an exceptional filmmaker with a unique sense of capturing the essence of life in minority communities in Spain. As such she has became the voice of a generation, and her movies are eye-openers about realities we seldom know. For us working again with Arantxa is a privilege and a pleasure,” said Latido Films CEO Antonio Saura.

Arantxa Echevarria, ChinasFilmed in Madrid’s Chinatown, the narrative follows two disparate families with ties to China, navigating the weighty segregation of a city that for better or worse, they call home.

“These neighborhoods allow immigrants to weave networks of solidarity and community. They cling to them as part of their own identity away from home, but they also become spaces that distance them from the true reality of where they live” Echevarria told Variety. 

Yun is nine, a buoyant second-generation immigrant whose family lives in the neighborhood. She calls herself Lucía and oscillates between a strict and traditional homelife and her assimilated Spanish life at school, while Claudia, her 17-year-old sister, revolts fully, coming into her own while met with prejudice from peers and increasing self-doubt.

“Adolescence is an extremely fragile time. We want to rebel, to find our own place. And in that moment of fragility, we’re also hyper-exposed to the world, to the gaze of friends, the boy we like. At that moment where we’re in a feverish search, life can be cut short,” Echevarria noted.

“Claudia hates what she is, where she comes from, because it makes her different. She hates and loves being Chinese. Being like the others means betraying her own reality. That journey was so interesting to me that her character began to take more shape and presence in the film. After all, Lucía’s light and smile, with time, will morph into the grim and serious disposition of her sister” she added.

Across town, lives a more reserved Xiang, Lucia’s new schoolmate adopted from China and raised by parents who stop at nothing to include her heritage in her upbringing, even when she abhors it, while showering her with the best of their fortunate social status, a life Lucía covets.

Both girls, the products of fragile surroundings, take on their parents’ struggles while longing for a carefree childhood in a world that seems to have pre-determined their fate, a theme that persists throughout the film.

“I’m afraid that the education and love received from our family dictates who we become. School can shape us, help us to escape from the internalized education of childhood, but the customs, the rigor, the good and bad are determined for us by our parents,” Echevarria noted.“Our inner desires, longings, and dreams are easily buried under the incessant trickle of what’s expected of us.”

Produced by Lazona Producciones, Hojalata Films and TVTEC Servicios Audiovisuales, the film is set for release this year with a cast comprised of non-professional actors who provide richness to the script, a heartfelt rendering of the demoralizing way in which self-imposed and societal prejudice clings to a psyche.

“I usually write about sensations and feelings that I know, even if they take place in a space that’s foreign to me, ” Echevarria said. “The search for identity, the heartbreak of not knowing where you come from and knowing that you’re not the same as the people around you, is a feeling that I’ve experienced and felt in my own skin.”

Chinas lends power to an immigrant community at once steeped in identity and being stripped of it, Echevarria, providing a way out of ignorance and into a greater understanding of the hardships these families endure when pulling up roots to settle into a new culture.

As Saura concludes, “Thanks to this film, no person will enter a Chinese-owned supermarket without understanding the hardworking people that sit behind its counters.

Aquí y Allí Films Partners with Daniel Guzmán to Produce Drama Thriller “La Deuda”

Daniel Guzmán has a new partner…

Madrid-based Aquí y Allí Films, one of Spain’s most successful auteur movie production houses, is joining forces with the 49-year-old popular Spanish actor turned writer-director to produce drama thriller La deuda.

Daniel Guzmán,  Backed by Spain’s pay TV giant Movistar+ and public broadcaster RTVE, La deuda will be produced by Aquí y Allí’s Pedro Hernández and Guzmán at El Niño Producciones.

The film is scheduled to roll in Madrid by the fall.

Written by Guzmán, La deuda tells the story of Lucas, a 37-year-old man and the 86 year-old woman Antonia, who live together in a city too big to be alone. Lucas is looking for a job but the job seems not to be looking for him.

Despite the economic difficulties they are going through, and their generational difference, they live day to day with a certain enthusiasm. Until Lucas’ decision will change the rest of their lives.

“I share with Pedro a vision and a cinematographic style that is essential to develop and produce a project as personal as this one,” Guzmán said.

“Dani’s managed to bring together in La Deuda many of the elements that make a film work with the audience without losing auteurship,” Hernández added.

“It is a human story, with wonderful, deep characters. It’s tender, sometimes hard, and has a lot of rhythm. And most importantly, it has his stamp,” Hernández observed.

Guzmán’s directorial debut Nothing in Return scored best picture, director and a Critics’ Prize at 2015’s Malaga Film Festival, going on to scoop Spanish Academy Goyas for new director and breakout actor (Miguel Herrán).

Its follow-up, Canallas, a Movistar+ original movie production released by Universal Pictures, world premiered at the 2022 Málaga Festival.

MTV Documentary Films Acquires Worldwide Rights to Maite Alberdi’s “The Eternal Memory”

Maite Alberdi’s latest project is going global…

MTV Documentary Films has acquired the worldwide rights to the love story The Eternal Memory, the 39-year-old Chilean film producer, director, documentarian, screenwriter and film critic’s follow-up to her Oscar nominated documentary The Mole Agent.

Maite Alberdi,The price is said to be approaching $3 million in a competitive situation with a number of bidders.

The film, which screened in the Sundance Film Festival World Documentary Competition section, will have its international premiere at the Berlinale next month in the Panorama Section and the company is planning a theatrical release and robust awards campaign later this year.

The Eternal Memory was produced by Alberdi, Juan De Dios Larraín, Pablo Larraín and Rocío Jadue.

In the film, Augusto and Paulina have been together and in love for 25 years. Eight years ago, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and his wife has since become his caretaker. As one of Chile’s most prominent cultural commentators and television presenters, Augusto is no stranger to building an archive of memory, having been responsible for that herculean task following the Pinochet dictatorship and its systematic erasure of collective consciousness. Now he turns that work to his own life, trying to hold on to his identity with the help of his beloved wife. Day by day, the couple face this challenge head-on, adapting to the disruptions brought on by the taxing disease while relying on the tender affection and sense of humor shared between them that remains intact.

“I am so happy that The Eternal Memory has found its home at MTV Documentary Films, which in recent years, has believed in the artistic innovation of documentaries and has released documentaries that I greatly admire,” said Alberdi. “Working with Sheila Nevins is an honor, and I admire what she has built in the documentary industry.”

“The gift of love that lasts is revealed in The Eternal Memory. One cannot be cynical in Maite’s verité film – a remarkable achievement that allows us to observe what remains as memory fades. We reconsider the value of a long life lived and consider in our own lives the eternal reach of comfort and caring to an otherwise merciless end,” said Nevins, Executive Producer, MTV Documentary Films.

Nina Diaz and Liza Burnett Fefferman, Co-Head, MTV Documentary Films, called the doc “an extraordinary and sublime love story, we simply couldn’t take our eyes off the screen. The Eternal Memory left us so deeply moved and devoted to Augusto and Pauli – we can’t stop thinking, talking and marveling about the beautiful work Maite has done and how elated we are to bring this film out into the world.”

The film is a Micromundo and Fabula production. Submarine and United Talent Agency Independent Film Group brokered the deal with MTV Documentary Films on behalf of the filmmakers.

UTA also represents Alberdi, the first Chilean woman to be nominated at the Academy Awards, and an important voice in Latin American documentary. She premiered her last film The Mole Agent at Sundance in 2020. It was the first Chilean documentary to be nominated for an Oscar.

In 2011, Alberdi released her first feature film, The Lifeguard. Through Micromundo, her production company, she directed her second film Tea Time, which won more than 12 international awards, and was nominated for the 2016 Goya Award for Best Ibero-American Film. In 2016, she released the short film I am not from here nominated for the European Films Award and also premiered her third feature The Grown-Ups that got 10 international awards.

Javier Bardem’s “The Good Boss” Earns European Film Awards Nomination for Best Comedy Feature

Javier Bardem could prove to be a boss at this year’s European Film Awards.

The 53-year-old Spanish Oscar-winning actor’s The Good Boss, has been nominated in the comedy feature category for this year’s awards show by the European Film Academy.

Javier Bardem, Good BossDirected by Fernando León de AranoaThe Good Boss is described as a pitch-black, workplace comedy fueled by Bardem’s seductively slimy portrayal of a baron whose industrial-scale factory is decidedly out of balance.

Bardem earned a Goya Award for his performance in the film.

Other nominees in the comedy feature category include Hannes Þór Halldórsson’s Cop Secret (Iceland) and Catherine Corsini’s The Divide (France).

Meanwhile, the European Film Academy will honor Italian director March Bellocchio for his mini-series Exterior Night during the awards ceremony on December 10 in the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik. He will receive the Award for European Innovative Storytelling for the drama, exploring the case of the kidnapping and assassination of former Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro by the Red Brigades in 1978.

There are five productions are in the running for the best-animated feature award: Amandine Fredon and Benjamin Massoubre’s Little NicholasAs Happy As Can Be (France); Signe Baumane’s My Love Affair With Marriage (Latvia), Anne-Laure Daffis and Léo Marchand’s My NeighborsNeighbors (France), Alain Ughetto’s No Dogs Or Italians Allowed (France) and Mascha Halberstad’s Oink (Netherlands).

Voting by the EFA’s 4,400 members on the other categories of best European film, director, actor, actress, screenwriter and documentary is currently underway, with the final list of nominations due to be announced on November 8.

Gkids Acquires North American Rights to Alberto Vázquez’s Animated Feature “Unicorn Wars”

Alberto Vázquez’s latest project is headed to the United States…

Gkids has acquired North American rights to the 41-year-old Spanish comic book artist and filmmaker’s latest genre-bending animated feature Unicorn Wars.Alberto VázquezThe news comes ahead of the film’s U.S. premiere at Fantastic Fest.

The horror-comedy will be released in theaters by Gkids in early 2023, following its domestic release in Spain this fall.

Billed as Bambi meets Apocalypse NowUnicorn Wars‘ logline is as follows:

Unicorn WarsFor ages, teddy bears have been locked in an ancestral war against their sworn enemy, the unicorns, with the promise that victory will complete the prophecy and usher in a new era. Aggressive, confident teddy bear Bluet and his sensitive, withdrawn brother Tubby could not be more different. As the rigors and humiliation of teddy bear bootcamp turn to the psychedelic horrors of a combat tour in the Magic Forest, their complicated history and increasingly strained relationship will come to determine the fate of the entire war.

Unicorn Wars previously featured in competition at the 2022 Annecy Animation Film Festival, and was just announced as a selection of the 2022 BFI London Film Festival.

Vázquez directed from his own script, with Chelo Loureiro, Iván Miñambres and Nicolas Schmerkin serving as executive producers.

“There is nobody on Earth who could make a film like Unicorn Wars except Alberto Vázquez,” said GKIDS’ President David Jesteadt. “We are proud to partner again with this exceptional filmmaker on his richly layered and darkly funny new film about cute characters doing horrific things. It continues to haunt me.”

Vazquez is a Goya and Annecy Cristal-winning director.

Belén Cuesta to Star in Disney+’s First Spanish Period Drama About Celebrated Fashion Designer Cristóbal Balenciaga

Belén Cuesta is dressin’ up her resume with a little Balenciaga

The 38-year-old Spanish actress, who has starred in Netflix’s hit series Money Heist, will star opposite Gemma Whelan and Albert San Juan in Disney+’s first Spanish period drama Balenciaga (working title).

Belén Cuesta Other actors set to appear in the drama include Lourdes Iglesias, Jose Mari Goenaga, Jon Garaño and Aitor Arregi.

The six-part drama centers on Cristóbal Balenciaga (San Juan), the son of a seamstress and a fisherman who uses his natural talent, constant work and sharp nose for business to become one of the most prominent fashion designers of all time.

It began filming in June and will continue until autumn in several locations in Spain and France with a team of 100 professionals and 2,000 extras.

Cuesta won the Goya Award for Best Actress for La Trinchera Infinita — a previous series from Iglesias, Garaño and Arregi. She will play Fabiola de Mora y Aragón before she became Queen of Belgium. Balenciaga designed her wedding dress in 1960.

Whelan will play Prudence Glynn, a journalist for The Times newspaper.

Elsewhere, Patrice Thibaud will portray Christian Dior; Josean Bengoetxea will play San Sebastian businessman Nicolás Bizkarrondo; Cecilia Solaguren, his wife, Virgilia Mendizabal; Adam Quintero will be Ramón Esparza, partner and collaborator of Balenciaga; and Elvira Cuadrupani plays Bettina Ballard, correspondent for Vogue magazine in Paris.

The main cast is rounded out by actors Thomas Coumans (Wladzio D’Attainville, Balenciaga’s partner and associate), Gabrielle Lazure (Carmel Snow, fashion director of Harper’s Bazaar), Isabelle Bres (designer Jeanne Lanvin), Anna-Victoire Olivier (actress Audrey Hepburn) and Eva Bley (designer Elsa Schiaparelli).

Streamer Disney+ unveiled the show last November as its first Spanish original as it seeks to meet its target of 60 international originals by 2024.

Ana Villafañe to Star as Fidel Castro’s Daughter Alina Fernandez in “Alina of Cuba: La Hija Rebelde”

Ana Villafañe is ready to Rebel yell

The 32-year-old Cuban American actress and singer will star in the indie feature Alina of Cuba: La Hija Rebelde.

Ana Villafañe

Villafañe will portray Fidel Castro’s daughter and anti-communism activist, Alina Fernandez, in the film from Mankind Entertainment and Maven Pictures.

Alina of Cuba is based on the true-life story of Fernandez, a Cuban American immigrant and human rights advocate whose birth was the result of a passionate love affair between Castro and Natalia Naty Revuelta. Revuelta, a Cuban-born socialite, sacrificed her and her physician husband’s personal belongings and finances to help fund the revolution.

Fernandez learned of her connection to Castro at the age of 10: when after years of secret visits to her home, she was finally told by her mother that “El Comandante” was her biological father. Fernandez and her mother stayed in Cuba after the former’s stepfather and her sister fled to the U.S. after his medical clinic was shut down.

Fernandez eventually became one of Castro’s most outspoken critics; she was arrested on more than one occasion for trying to leave and classified as a dissident forbidden to travel outside of Cuba. She defected to Spain in 1993 and later made Miami her permanent home.

The biopic will shoot in Cartagena, Colombia this summer with Goya Award-winner Miguel Bardem set as director.

Alina of Cuba, formerly known as Castro’s Daughter, is written by Academy Award nominee Jose Rivera, and Pulitzer Prize winner Nilo Cruz.

Villafañe is best known for her breakout role in the Broadway musical On Your Feet portraying Gloria Estefan.

She later starred as Nina Rosario in the Kennedy Center’s 2018 production of In the Heights, and then made her off-Broadway debut in MCC’s critically acclaimed Collective Rage: A Play in Five Betties that same year.

On television, Villafañe most recently portrayed Dr. Valentin Castro in NBC’s New Amsterdam and Diana Barea in Sunnysidfor the network, as well as KT in the Paramount+ series Younger.

Fernando León de Aranoa’s “The Good Boss” Earns Six Goya Awards

Fernando León de Aranoa is officially a Boss

The 53-year-old Spanish screenwriter and filmmaker’s comedy-drama The Good Boss, dominated Spain’s top film prizes this year, Premios Goya (Goya Awards), claiming six awards including Best Picture.

Fernando León de Aranoa, Javier Bardem

The film also nabbed Best Director and Best Screenplay for Aranoa, Best Actor for Javier Bardem, Best Original Score (Zeltia Montes) and Best Editing (Vanessa L. Marimbert). It had previously received a record-setting 20 nominations.

The ceremony saw Bardem continue his streak at the awards, collecting his sixth Goya in total, while filmmaker Aranoa is now up to seven in his career.

Javier Bardem, Good BossThe Good Boss stars Bardem as a factory owner who deviously schemes his way to solving all of the problems within his business and his personal life, including his infidelities. It was produced by companies including The MediaPro Studio and MK2 Films. Cohen Media Group will handle the U.S. release.

Other winners at the 2022 Goyas included Blanca Portillo picking up Best Actress for Maixabel, with the film also taking Supporting Actor for Urko Olazabal and New Actress for Maria Cerezuela.

Another Round took home Best European Picture, while New Director went to Clara Roquet for Libertad.

As previously announced, Cate Blanchett was the recipient of this year’s International Goya Award. A further honorary award went to Spanish actor José Sacristán.
Full list of Goya winners:

The Good Boss

Fernando León de Aranoa, The Good Boss

Clara Roquet, Libertad

Blanca Portillo, Maixabel

Javier Bardem, The Good Boss

Nora Navas, Libertad

Urko Olazabal, Maixabel

Fernando León de Aranoa, The Good Boss

Daniel Monzón y Jorge Guerricaechevarría, The Laws of the Border

Kiko de la Rica, Mediterráneo: The Law of the Sea

Zeltia Montes, The Good Boss

Te espera el mar, (María José Llergo for Mediterráneo: The Law of the Sea)

Chechu Salgado, The Laws of the Border

María Cerezuela, Maixabel

Cate Blanchett

Valentina (Chelo Loureiro)

La cordillera de los sueños, (Patricio Guzmán, Chile)

Another Round, (Thomas Vinterberg, Denmark)

Who’s Stopping Us, (Jonás Trueba)

José Sacristán

Verónica Echegui (Tótem loba)

The Monkey, (Lorenzo Degl’Innocenti, Xosé Zapata)

Mamá, (Pablo de la Chica)

Vanessa Marimbert, The Good Boss

Albert Espel, Kostas Sfakianakis (Mediterráneo: The Law of the Sea)

Vinyet Escobar (The Laws of the Border)

Balter Gallart (The Laws of the Border)

Daniel Fontrodona, Oriol Tarragó, Marc Bech, Marc Orts (Tres)

Sarai Rodríguez, Benjamín Pérez, Nacho Díaz (The Laws of the Border)

Pau Costa, Laura Pedro (Way Down)

Cheech Marin to Star in the Bobby Farrelly-Directed Film “Champions”

Cheech Marin is a champion

The 75-year-old Mexican American actor will lead Champions, a recently-wrapped film that Bobby Farrelly directed for Focus Features and Gold Circle Entertainment.

Cheech MarinMarin stars alongside Woody Harrelson, Kaitlin Olson and Matt Cook.

Champions is based on the Goya Award winning Spanish film Campeones, which Universal Pictures International released in 2018.

It centers on a stubborn and hotheaded minor league basketball coach who is forced to coach a Special Olympics team when he is sentenced to community service.

Actors with intellectual disabilities rounding out the cast to ensure authenticity in the storytelling include Madison Tevlin, Joshua Felder, Kevin Iannucci, Ashton Gunning, Matthew Von Der Ahe, Tom Sinclair, James Day Keith, Alex Hintz, Casey Metcalfe, Bradley Edens and Champ Pederson.

Mark Rizzo penned the script.

Focus Features will distribute the film domestically, with Universal Pictures handling its international release.

Marin is an actor and comedian who broke out in the ’70s, alongside Tommy Chong, as one half of the comedy duo Cheech & Chong. He’s appeared in such films as MachetePlanet TerrorGrindhouseTin CupFrom Dusk Till Dawn, DesperadoGhostbusters IIBorn in East L.A.After Hours and Up in Smoke, along with series including Elena of AvalorLodge 49 and Jane the Virgin.