Trueba plans mucho pix

Spanish director might helm four features and a docu

MADRID — Having made just one fiction feature since 1998 — “The Shanghai Spell” in 2002 — Spanish director Fernando Trueba (“Belle Epoque”) could end up directing four features and a documentary in five languages and seven countries over the next five years.

Most pics will be European co-productions. Given the cachet of Trueba and his projects’ partners, they rep some of Spain’s highest-profile projects:

  • Trueba is set to direct English-language romantic thriller “Haunted Heart,” a project launched by and starring Penelope Cruz, set up at Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp in France. Screenplay is by Trueba and 26-year-old U.S. scribe Rylend Grant.

  • Javier Mariscal, one of Spain’s foremost graphic artists, is teaming with Trueba on the director’s first animated feature, “Chico and Rita,” set in Cuba and the U.S. in 1948. Written by Trueba, pic is co-produced by Trueba’s production company and Michael Rose’s Magic Light in London.

  • Vet scribe Jean-Claude Carriere and Trueba have written the French-language “The Artist and the Model,” set in 1943 in Occupied France. Fabienne Servan-Schreiber’s Cineteve in France co-produces.

  • Italian producer Vittorio Cecchi Gori has commissioned Trueba to write a Spanish-language adaptation of romantic thriller “Victory Dance,” a novel by “Il Postino” author Antonio Skarmeta.

  • Trueba has half-shot a diary-style docupic-tribute to Tenorio Junior, a Brazilian pianist murdered by the Argentine Junta in 1976.

One question is which pic could roll first. “Heart” is skedded to shoot in the Greek Isles next spring. But adult-oriented toon “Chico and Rita” could make the most impact in Cannes. Rose will show a teaser to possible co-producers.

Trueba has not been idle since 1998. He has created a Latin jazz record label, directed three music docus (“Calle 54,” “Blanco y negro,” “The Miracle of Candeal”), and produced brother David Trueba’s witty twentysomething romantic comedy “Welcome Home” and Felix Viscarret’s debut “Bajo las estrellas.”

“Chico and Rita,” which follows a pianist and his voluptuous chanteuse lover from Cuba to New York, incorporates Mariscal’s distinctive drawing style, with a sensual Mediterranean palette and period-nailing details.

“The music — jazz, bebop — is one of the film’s main attractions,” says Trueba. Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie have cameos. “We’ll cut original music. But my idea is to ask a musician to play, say, in the Parker style,” Trueba adds.

Cuban pianist Bebo Valdes, a spry 87, who starred in concert-pic “Blanco y negro,” will play Chico’s piano pieces.

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