Terrorist biopic to play out of competition

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PARIS — Olivier Assayas’ “Carlos,” an $18 million three-part miniseries about Venezuelan terrorist Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, has nabbed an out-of-competition slot at the Cannes Film Festival.

Co-produced and co-financed by Gallic paybox Canal Plus, the 5½-hour biopic toplines Venezuelan thesp Edgar Ramirez (“Che”) as the assassin who came to be known as Carlos the Jackal, along with Julia Hummer and Alexander Beyer.

This is Assayas’ first foray into TV. His films “Clean,” “Demonlover” and “Les Destinees sentimentales” all competed for Cannes’ Palme d’Or in previous years.

French helmer said he was seduced by the idea of making a compelling and artistically ambitious film dealing with recent history and real people.

“Not long ago, the idea of making a film about Carlos would have scared French producers,” Assayas said. “But nowadays I sense that we’re being encouraged to make films that have a contemporary dimension.”

Series will air on Canal Plus in primetime in late May and the Sundance Channel will air it Stateside in the fall. StudioCanal is handling international sales on the series and a 150-minute feature version.

Another addition to Cannes’ official selection is “5 x favela,” a remake of Miguel Borges’ 1962 film “Cinco vezes favela,” which will unspool as a special screening.

“Favela” is an omnibus directed by five film students from Rio who were mentored by some of Brazil’s top directors, including Carlos Diegues, Fernando Meirelles, Walter Salles and Daniel Filho.

Modestly budgeted at around $2 million, the film is produced by Luz Magica and co-produced by Globo Filmes and the Rio mayor’s office. “Favela” is also partly funded by Brazil’s richest man, Eike Batista, through his company OGX.

(John Hopewell in Madrid contributed to this report.)

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