Thriller centers on Josef Mengele in Argentina

MADRID — France’s Pyramide Productions and Spain’s Wanda Films have boarded “Wakolda,” Lucia Puenzo’s follow-up to “The Fish Child.”

A period psychological thriller, “Wakolda” is lead-produced by Argentina’s Historias Cinematografias.

Pyramide will distribute “Wakolda” in France and has acquired international rights via Pyramide Intl.

Written by Puenzo and shooting late fall, “Wakolda” adapts her same-titled fifth novel that is just hitting Argentinean bookshops.

Set in 1959-60, it follows Nazi war criminal Josef Mengele, notorious for his horrific experiments on Auschwitz inmates, who puts up at a family-run boarding house in Bariloche, a lakeside village in Patagonia. The family knows nothing about him; its daughter falls under Mengele’s spell.

The pic’s main characters are teenagers who, nearing adulthood, are developing their own political ideas, Puenzo told Daily Variety.

It shows “how hundreds of Argentine families became silent accomplices of the Nazis who disappeared in my country, more or less aware of their true identities.”

Many historians say Mengele continued carrying out genetic experiments in Latin America, Puenzo said.

Puenzo and her father, director and HC head Luis Puenzo (“The Official Story”), will produce.

HC is structuring “Wakolda” as a Germany-Spain-France-Benelux co-production with Argentina, said Luis Puenzo. Shooting in Spanish and German, “Wakolda” is “Lucia’s biggest film to date, given its period setting and her interests as an increasingly mature director,” he added.

One of Latin America’s busiest film production forces, Historias has a five-pic 2011-12 slate.

“Infancia clandestina,” with Natalia Oreiro, Ernesto Alterio and Cesar Troncoso, is in post.

Written by Lucia Puenzo, produced by brother Esteban Puenzo and directed by Gianfranco Quattrini, (“Chicha tu madre”), the Richard Lester style rock concert comedy “Toxic Jungle” rolls second half 2011. HC, Brazil’s RTF, Italy’s Istituto Luce and Peru’s Planta Madre produce.

Luis Puenzo will direct political musical comedy “El Nino argentino,” adapting Mauricio Kartun’s legit production.

Nicolas Puenzo rolls around early 2012 on his debut “Post,” a post-apocalypse drama.

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