Fabula production plays Locarno competish

TAULL, Spain — Paris-based Funny Balloons has taken worldwide rights outside Chile to “The Year of the Tiger,” the third film from Chile’s Sebastian Lelio (“Sagrada Familia,” “Navidad”).

Produced by Pablo and Juan de Dios Larrain’s Chile-based Fabula, a leading Latin American arthouse label, “Tiger” world premieres in International Competition at the 64th Locarno festival, which kicks off Wednesday.

Also written by Lelio, whose “Navidad” played Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight in 2009, “Tiger” follows a prison inmate who escapes from his wrecked penitentiary during Chile’s February 2010 earthquake.

Based on true events, “Tiger” shot just two months after the quake, lensing in affected areas.

That gave “urgency and emotion” and a documentary-feel to “Tiger,” Lelio told Variety.

The scenes of devastation mirror the ex-con’s psychological state, he added.

Tiger” tapped coin from Chile’s Audiovisual Fund, a subsidy scheme targeting films with international potential, and won a cash-prize at the Santiago festival’s Work in Progress sidebar, said producer Juan de Dios Larrain.

Funny Balloons handled international sales on Pablo Larrain’s “Tony Manero” and “Post Mortem,” both Fabula productions. It is in negotiations to close a U.S. deal on “Post Mortem,” said Funny Balloons’ founder Peter Danner.

Fabula, Funny Balloons and Wild Bunch produced Abel Ferrara’s “4:44 Last Day on Earth,” which is in Competition at Venice.

Funny Balloons also repped Mexican helmer Fernando Eimbke’s “Duck Season” and “Lake Tahoe,” both produced by Christian Valdelievre’s Cine Pantera.

Created in 2003, Funny Balloons launched at a time “when a new generation of Latin American filmmakers began to break through,” said Danner. “There was no set plan. But we were lucky enough to work with some very talented filmmakers early in their careers. That has formed relationships.”

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