PARIS – Pablo Fendrik’s “El Ardor,” a pioneering Amazon-set Western action adventure, is one of the six films that have been added to Cannes Film Festival’s official selection.
“El Ardor,” the third feature from Fendrik (“Blood Appears”), will play in Special Screenings along with Laurent Bécue-Renard’s documentary “Of Men and War,” Kazakh director Adilkhan Yerzhanov’s (“Realtors”) “The Owners” and Tony Gatlif’s “Geronimo.”
French helmer Andre Techine’s 1976-set “In the Name of My Daughter” with Guillaume Canet, Catherine Deneuve and Adèle Haenel will unspool out of the competition, while Hungarian director Kornél Mundruczó’s “Fehér Isten” (“White God”) will unspool in Un Certain Regard.
Described by Mundruczó as a sentimental adventure film, “White God” turns on a 12-year-old girl who runs away from home to search for her dog. The Match Factory handles international sales on the the Hungarian-German-Swedish co-production, which marks Mundruczó’s sixth film. He’s been in Cannes three times, with “Johanna” at Un Certain Regard in 2005 as well as with “Delta” and “Tender Son — The Frankenstein Project” which competed in 2008 and 2010, respectively.
Inspired by a real story, Techine’s film stars Deneuve as Agnes Le Roux, the daughter of a French Riviera casino owners, who was manipulated by her mother’s confidant, a lawyer named Maurice Agnelet, into turning her back on her mother in order gain full control of the casino. After she mysteriously disappeared in 1977, Agnelet became a prime suspect for the crime, although no body or evidence were ever found. Six Techine have previously played in Cannes’ official selection. Elle Driver reps international sales.
“Geronimo” toplines up-and-coming French star Céline Sallette as a young educator raised by Gypsies who works in the South of France and battles to diffuse escalating tensions between the Gypsy and Turkish communities. Gatlif previously won Cannes film fest’s director nod for “Exils” and Un Certain Regard prize for his doc “Latcho Drom.”
Participant Media’s first investment under its Participant PanAmerica initiative, “El Ardor” stars Gael Garcia Bernal as an Amazon rainforest shaman who befriends a tobacco farmer and his beautiful daughter (Alice Braga). When a band of brutal mercenaries slaughter the father and kidnap the daughter, the shaman sets out to rescue her.
In both Fendrik’s move into more mainstream filmmaking and the film’s financing structure, which takes in regional co-production plus funding from the U.S. and Europe, “El Ardor” reps a step up in scale and ambition for Latin America. Lead produced by Juan Pablo Gugliotta and Nathalia Pena’s Magma Cine in Argentina, who produce with Garcia Bernal, “El Ardor” is co-produced by Mexico’s Canana Films, Brazil’s Bananaeira Films and Manny Films in France. Participant PanAmerica finances, Paris-based BAC Films sells international rights and has taken French distribution, while out of Argentina, “El Ardor” is co-produced by Aleph Media and broadcaster Telefe.
“El Ardor” also reteams Participant Media and its star, Garcia Bernal, who toplined Chilean Pablo Larrain’s “No,” Participant Media’s first foreign-language film investment.
Participant’s Jeff Skoll and Jonathan King, Canana’s Pablo Cruz and Telefe’s Axel Kuschevatzky serve as executive producers.
“El Ardor’s” selection gives Argentina a standout four films at Cannes this year, also including Damian Szifron’s Cannes Competition player “Wild Tales,” Lisandro Alonso’s untitled Un Certain Regard player, with Viggo Mortensen, and Diego Lerman’s “El refugiado,” selected for Directors’ Fortnight.
Save for the tradition of selecting three films by French directors in competition, Cannes does not choose films because of their nationality.
Reasons for the absence of fiction titles from directors from Mexico – though Mexico’s Canana played a key role in shaping the production structure of “El Ardor,” and Mantarraya co-produced Argentine Lisandro Alonso’s Un Certain Regard player entitled “Jauja” – Chile and Brazil, contrasting with the brace of films from Argentina, is sure to prove a talking point among Latin Americans on this year’s Croisette.