Auteurs Lee, Stone put mavericks in the doc

'Mandela,' 'Fidel,' other films get Immortales backing

MADRID — Audiences love controversy — and a new company is set to specialize in it with documentaries by and about some of the world’s best-known mavericks.

Coleccion Inmortales is a new joint venture teaming Fernando Sulichin’s Paris-based Rule 8 Prods. and Spain’s Morena Films.

Its first project is Spike Lee-helmed “Mandela: The Legacy,” a feature-length doc on South Africa’s former leader Nelson Mandela, with Oliver Stone exec producing.

French sales company Wild Bunch will handle international on Lee’s doc, plus the Stone-directed “Looking for Fidel,” about Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, and an upcoming doc about Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi

A fourth film is still to be tied down. All four will be exec produced by Stone.

Wild Bunch will add a fifth to the doc sales slate: “Persona Non Grata,” Stone’s film diary of his attempt to interview Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat during a siege in Ramallah, which screened to an upbeat reception at Deauville.

The Stone-Lee-Mandela triple score is sure to make waves at Mipcom, where the new venture was due to bow Oct 13.

Inmortales, says Morena TV chief Alvaro Longoria, will “only focus on super-hot issues filmed by the world’s greatest cinema talents.”

“We’ll let talent fully express itself without an interfering middle management, which is ruining the industry,” adds Rule 8 founder Sulichin, who’s responsible for Inmortales’ talent relationships.

Inmortales could be Stone’s rebound from “Comandante,” his Castro portrait, which HBO yanked after the dictator imprisoned dissidents.

Stone returned to Cuba to confront Castro, making “Looking for Fidel.” But he was clearly riled by HBO’s hardballing, claiming that he’d been “censored” in the U.S..

With each doc budgeted around $2 million, “we’re not in this just for money,” says Sulichin.

But Inmortales does go with the market flow. At MipDoc in March, current affairs and history docs repped 48% of all screenings, wildlife and travel a mere 10% and 8% respectively.

Meanwhile, as in children’s programming, doc auds are migrating from terrestrial to digital channels. For primetime, broadcasters now demand event docs, sometimes exclusively.

Per Wild Bunch’s international sales head Vincent Maraval, at Mipcom the sales company will court potential co-production coin from European broadcasters, plus Japanese all-rights distribution.

Pics’ theatrical releases will be decided project by project, according to deals struck with broadcasters, he adds.

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