Voz, Ensueno team on ‘Garbo’

Hernandez to direct World War II espionage thriller

BERLIN — Spain’s Voz Audiovisual and Ensueno Films have teamed to produce World War II espionage thriller “Garbo,” with Antonio Hernandez attached to direct.

Period suspenser turns on the true story of Juan Pujol, the Barcelona-born double spy who duped Adolf Hitler and the German High Command into believing that the Allied invasion of France in 1944 would take place in Calais not Normandy.

Hernandez is currently engaged on a re-write. “Garbo,” the spy’s codename, is skedded to shoot in late 2007 for a late 2008 bow.

Set in Madrid, Lisbon and the U.K., pic will be “expensive for Spanish productions,” said Ensueno topper Tedy Villalba.

That puts it in the E6 million ($7.7 million) to $9.1 million upwards, depending on cast. There’s two plum role up for grabs Garbo and Robert Harris, the chief of Britain’s spycatchers, MI5.

Pic marks a further incursion into — for Spain — higher-end pic production by companies linked to broadcasters or media congloms. Voz is the film and TV production subsid of Galician publishing giant Voz de Galicia, Ensueno the production unit of broadcaster Antena 3.

Ensueno will co-produce Woody Allen’s upcoming summer 2007 Spanish shoot, with Penelope Cruz.

Ensueno and Prodigius Audiovisual, the production division of Antena 3 controlling shareholder DeAPlaneta, have also greenlit “Independencia!,” one of the costliest Spanish-language films ever to be made.

The siege epic — a more-upbeat Spanish “Alamo” — charts the heroic resistance of Zaragoza townsfolk when under siege by Napoleonic troops in 1808.

Pic should include two Spanish actors of international reknown, Prodigius director Jaume Santacana said.

With scenes involving an aggregate 15,000 extras, “Independencia!” should come in on a par with the $26 million “Alatriste.”

As with Antena 3-backed “The Borgias,” the broadcaster also plans a miniseries.

“Independence” will move into pre-production March 1 for delivery May 2008. Budget is covered, though the producers aim to bring in a French co-producer.

Seasoned Spanish line producer Jose Luis Escolar has been tapped as head of production, Benjamin Fernandez as art director.

Screenplay is by Michel Gaztambide. A director will shortly be attached, Santacana said.

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