First film will be Lopez's 'Leones'

PARIS — Argentina’s Rizoma Films, producer of “It’s Not You, It’s Me” and Berlin grand jury prize winner “Gigante,” is producing “Leones,” the first pic at a new low-budget label.

The still-to-be-titled shingle will be set up as a separate company, said Rizoma founder Hernan Musaluppi. Company will be run by Rizoma’s Barbara Francisco and Fernando Brom.

Launched 2001, Rizoma has made its name producing first features and quality crowdpleasers, such as Juan Taratuto’s romantic comedies “It’s Not You” and “Who Says It’s Easy,” and last year’s “Lovely Loneliness.”

Written and to be directed by 24-year-old Argentinian Jazmin Lopez, “Leones” is considerably more challenging — a metaphysical teaser that tracks five teens walking across a huge field in a boardgame whose rules they ignore. And it’s budgeted at just Euros 359,000 ($500,000).

Developed by Benjamin Domenech before Rizoma came on board, “Leones” won the Arte Award as best project at this year’s Bafici Festival Co-prod Meetings.

Pic is skedded to shoot May 2010, near the Atlantic coast city of Necochea, with acclaimed Steadicam operator Matias Mesa (“Elephant,” “Babel”) as d.p.

“Leones” will pull down a subsidy from Argentina’s Incaa Film Institute and tap camera and sound equipment free-of-charge from Buenos Aires’ Universidad de Cine, said Francisco, who produces for Rizoma.

“We want to start a new stage in Rizoma production, with smaller, artistically riskier films,” said Musaluppi.

Most film budgets will be around $300,000-$400,000, he added.

One of 14 projects presented at the official selection of the Paris Project co-prod meetings, which began Monday, “Leones” joins an extensive Rizoma slate.

Toplining Pilar Lopez de Ayala, Javier Drolas and Ines Efron, first-timer Gustavo Taretto’s “Medianeras” (Sidewalls) is currently shooting, co-produced with Germany’s Pandora Films and Spain’s Morena Films.

Rodrigo Moreno, whose “The Custodian” won the 2006 Berlinale’s Alfred Bauer award, will shoot in October his sophomore pic, “The Mysterious World,” about a young man who breaks up with his girlfriend and buys a car.

Teaming with Uruguay’s Control Z, a longtime production partner, Rizoma is co-producing Pablo Stoll’s experimental, dialogue-free “Hiroshima,” now in post, plus his dysfunctional family drama “3,” which is co-produced by Control Z, Pandora and Arte Germany.

Rizoma is also providing production services on “First Mission,” produced by Holland’s TV channel IDTV, which is shooting in Northern Argentina.

Charles Newbery contributed to this report.

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