Cuban zombie comedy is Toronto sales hit

John Sloss and Bart Walker’s Cinetic Media has boarded Cuban Alejandro Brugues’ zombie comedy “Juan de los muertos” (Juan of the Dead).

Cinetic Media will represent “Dead” for a North American sale along with Alfredo Calvino’s Mexico-based Latinofusion.

Handled for the rest of the world by Latinofusion, “Dead” world preemed in Toronto and has notched up major international sales deals. PandaStorm Pictures closed Germany, and Cinema Prestige nabbed Russia. Avalon has Spanish distribution rights and will release “Dead” in January. Deals for Japanese and U.K. rights are in advanced negotiations; Latinofusion is fielding offers for France, Mexico, Brazil and Colombia.

The deal traction validates pic’s status as a flagship for Cuba’s burgeoning indie production scene. Produced by Iglesias’ Zanfona Producciones in Seville and Cuba’s Inti Herrera, and budgeted at Euros2.5 million ($3.4 million) — high-end for Cuba — “Dead” was made without financing, but with the authorization and aid of, Cuba’s state Icaic Film Institute, which provided shoot permits.

“Dead” stars Cuba’s Alexis Diaz de Villegas as a 40-year-old who, as a zombie epidemic spreads through Havana, decides to make a quick buck, offering to slay people’s infected relatives. But as conditions worsen, he has to concentrate on his own survival.

” ‘Dead’ works as comedy, but it’s also a metaphor for Cuba’s 50 years of revolution,” said exec producer Gervasio Iglesias.

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