Argentina’s REI Cine Sets Gonzalo Tobal’s

Noirish crime drama marks drive into bigger auteur fare

MIAMI –Director of Cannes 2012 Special Screening “Villegas” and Cinefondation-winning short “Now Everybody Seems To Be Happy,” Argentina’s Gonzalo Tobal is reteaming with “Villegas” producer REI Cine, headed by Benjamin Domenech and Santiago Gallelli, for his feature follow-up: “Dolores.”

Mixing Argentine high fantasy and ontological doubt with genre tropes – “Dolores” is part film noir, featuring a crime drama, femme fatale and corruption in high places – “Dolores” is REI Cine’s second title to be unveiled in a couple of months, after “Zama,” from Lucrecia Martel (“La cienaga,” “The Holy Girl”), which marks REI Cine’s drive into larger canvas, author-driven productions.

It is loosely inspired by two recent events – claimed sightings of a puma in Buenos Aires, the Dolores Friedman case in which a beautiful 21-year-old daughter of a well-to-do family is accused of brutal murdering her best friend. “Dolores” is narrated from point of view of both the murder suspect and a cub reporter, who is taken off the Dolores Friedman case to write about the puma’s supposedly terrorizing a Buenos Aires neighborhood. Still fascinated by Dolores Friedman, he manages to track her down and falls in love. They begin a relationship. Meanwhile flashbacks allow spectators to make up their own minds about the case.

Tobal has completed a second draft on “Dolores,” with which he participated at the Binger Filmlab and Fundacion Carolina. He will now attach a co-screenwriter. Domenech aims to tap an INCAA Argentine subsidy, TV coin, co-production with Latin America and Europe and private U.S. investment, he said at the ACE Co-Production Lab in Miami, where he unveiled the project.

Skedded to shoot late 2015, ’Dolores’ talks about the constant manipulation of truth for self interest in a case where you can’t tell what is the truth, Domenech said.

Fast consolidating as one of Argentina’s busiest and most international of producers, REI Cine will roll in the first months of 2015 on “Zama,” a novel by Antonio di Benedetto which is set in 1790 in Asuncion, Paraguay. It turns on Don Diego de Zama, a Spanish crown official awaiting his transfer to the city of Buenos Aires.

50% of finance is now in place. Project partners are

Vania Catani’s Bananeira Filmes in Brazil, Marie-Pierre Macia and Juliette Lepoutre’s Paris-based MPM Film, Pedro and Agustin Almodovar’s El Deseo in Madrid, and Joslyn Barnes and Danny Glover’s U.S.-based Louverture Films. MPM has confirmed World Cinema Support funding from France’s CNC film board. Further negotiations are ongoing, Domenech said. Producers will

complete “Zama’s” financing during 2014, he added.

Established by Domenech and Gallelli in 2008, REI stands out in several ways. Its first features scored berths at prestige fests from the get-go, One of AMC/Sundance Channel Global’s first pick-ups for Latin America, Jazmin Lopez’s “Leones” world preemed at Venice Horizons. REI Cine’s latest production, Benjamin Naishtat’s “History of Fear,” played in Berlin’s 2014’s Competition.

Unusually for Argentina, REI Cine has launched a distribution arm, REI Distribucion, to form new audiences for Latin American arthouse movies. First releases include Carlos Reygadas’ Cannes best director winner “Post Tenebras Lux” and Dominga Sotomayor’s Rotterdam Tiger winner “Thursday Till Sunday.”

Most Latin American producers originate their own movies.

REI in contrast has worked as a minority co-production partner on features from Chile (“Thursday Till Sunday,” Brazil (Anita Rocha da Silveira’s “Kill Me Please,” lead-produced by Bananeira Filmes) and the Dominican Republic (“Los dolares de arena,” from Laura Amelia Guzman and Israel Cardenas).

Argentine minority co-productions require a bilateral co-production agreement with the co-producing partner’s country, Domenech said at a round table, Funding in Latin America,” held at the ACE Co-production Lab.

An Argentina-Brazil co-production fund supports two minority co-productions from Brazil and two from Argentina every year, putting up $250,000 per pic. “Kill Me Please” slotted into this pact. The fund covers 100% of the Argentine co-producers’ equity with the same subsidy cap as any local film has, per Domenech.

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