Habanero Finds ‘Companion’ Pavel Giroud (EXCLUSIVE)

Brazilian sales outfit takes international rights to San Sebastian 2013's Co-production Forum award winning project

Brazil-based sales outfit Habanero will handle international rights on Pavel Giroud’s HIV drama “The Companion,” winner this year of the best project award at San Sebastian’s Europe-Latin America Co-production Forum.

Now at a financing stage, “The Companion” is produced by Cuba/Panama-based Arete Audiovisual, in co-production with Jaguar Films, Panama’s top production/services company, and Edgard Tenembaum’s Paris-based outfit Tu Vas Voir, producer of Walter Salles’ “The Motorcycle Diaries.”

Pavel Giroud, one of the most promising of young Cuban filmmakers, also penned “The Companion” script, which is set in 1988 La Habana and narrates the friendship between Horacio Romero, a Cuban boxer that fails a drug test and must serve as a warden or, in Cuban government jingo-speak, a “companion,” of Daniel, a conflictive patient in an AIDS centre under military rule.

Brazilian thesp Lazaro Ramos is attached to play the Horacio Romero role. Other casting is underway.

“This is the first story that goes truly deep in something that really happened in Cuba but nobody talked about before, at least not that way,” said Habanero founder-director Alfredo Calvino.

“’The Companion’ is truly universal, recreating a very particular and dramatic period of humanity, the appearance of AIDS and its dramatic consequences, so it is also about tolerance, about prejudices, about love after all. I would say that ‘The Companion’ can be nowadays what Alea’s ‘Fresa y Chocolate’ was at the beginning of the ‘90s,” Calvino added.

Launched August 2011 as a sales agent specialized in Latino movies, Habanero’s main sales hits to date include Sebastian Cordero’s “Pescador,” Carlos Lechuga’s “Melaza” and Francisco Franco’s “Last Call.”

Habanero, which is sponsoring a distribution award at Ventana Sur’s pix-in-post showcase Primer Corte, aims to launch in 2014 a Latino documentaries label called HabaneroDoc.

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