Spanish director heads for Chile

MADRID — Spanish helmer Fernando Trueba, who won the foreign-language Oscar for “Belle Epoque,” is back in the saddle.

After seven years producing films and records and helming docus, Trueba will roll July 28 for 11 weeks in Chile on his next fiction feature as a director, “El Baile de la Victoria,” toplining Argentina’s best-known thesp, Ricardo Darin.

“Victoria” will be produced by Cristina Huete for Trueba’s Madrid-based single, Fernando Trueba P.C.

Italy’s Cecchi Gori, which originated the project, will take an associate producer credit and Italian rights, Trueba told Variety.

Film is co-financed by Spanish pubcaster TVE.

Set in winter in Santiago de Chile, the drama adapts a novel, recently translated into English as “The Dancer and the Thief,” by “Il Postino” author, Chilean Antonio Skarmeta. Screenplay is by Trueba, son Jonas Trueba and Skarmeta.

Trueba describes “Baile” as “a three-character film,” turning on a professional thief (Darin) and a young man (Argentinean Abel Ayala, “El Polaquito,” “The Mudboy”) jailed for stealing a horse, both of whom are released after an amnesty, and a young girl (Chile’s Miranda Bodenhofer) “whose only mode of self-expression is dancing.”

“Victoria” is “above all a romantic film, but with comedy, film noir and out-there elements,” Trueba said.

Shooting through to October, “Victoria” should be ready for delivery February-March next year, he added.

At the same time, Trueba is completing studio recording in New York of the music for his first animated feature, “Chico and Rita.”

Co-produced by Michael Rose and Martin Pope’s Magic Light Pictures in London, and co-directed by Spanish graphic artist Javier Mariscal, “Chico” is set in the jazz-bebop scenes of Cuba and New York from 1948. Written by Trueba, the film follows a budding pianist and his voluptuous young chanteuse lover from Cuba to New York.

Musicians recording for “Chico” include pianist Bebo Valdes, saxophonist Jimmy Heath and drummer Dafnis Prieto.

Trueba also has completed screenplays for two more projects: Penelope Cruz starrer “Haunted Heart” and “The Artist and the Model.”

A project launched by Cruz as a producer, “Heart” is set up at Luc Besson’s Gallic giant EuropaCorp. Written with 28-year-old U.S. scribe Ryland Grant, the screenplay is “ready to come out of the drawer whenever Penelope and I want,” Trueba said.

“Model,” which Trueba hopes to shoot in 2009, is a French-language project, co-written by Jean-Claude Carriere, and set in 1943 in Occupied France.

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