Frank Spano sets ‘Human Persons’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Actor-director then plans to helm ‘Gauguin & Canal’

BOGOTA – Panama-based actor-turned-playwright-and-movie director Frank Spano (“Hora Menos”) has set drama thriller “Human Persons” as his second feature before helming “Gauguin & Canal.”

Dexter Davis’ U.S. distributor-producer D Street Media is negotiating to board the project.

Carlos Bardem (“Cell 211”) and Venezuela’s Albi de Abreu (“The Zero Hour”) star in “Human Persons,” a redemption tale written by Spano and Pedro Garcia Rios. It turns on Nando, an inured criminal who handles his mob’s organ trafficking business. Having bungled the removal of a liver in Sioux Falls, he is given a week to get a liver in Medellin or die. Memories flood back as he returns to his native city after 30 years’ absence. His reencounter with a childhood friend Antonia, who now runs a shelter for the homeless, makes him question his criminal life. But he still needs a liver, and the shelter’s wards rep an obvious source.

“Human Persons” is produced by Spano’s Garra Producciones, which is based out of Panama, Spain and Venezuela, along with Mexico’s Iman Inversion and Luis Pacheco’s Jaguar Films (“The Colors of the Mountain”), which also produces “Gauguin & Canal” with Garra and D Street Media.

“Human Persons” has two narrative pillars, Spano said: “It’s a story where characters’ dramatic tension blends with an organ trafficking thriller.”

Winner of a special mention at March’s Panama Festival Meets co-pro forum, Spano’s “Gauguin & Canal,” a big-screen makeover of his award-winning theater play captures the French painter in Tahiti in 1903, near to death, attempting to paint a masterpiece and on trial for his defense of the indigenous population in Tahiti, thinking back with guilt to his sojourn in “savage” Panama in 1887. There, he stole much of his inspiration for his paintings.

Spano reconfirmed at the Bogota Audiovisual Market (BAM) that Jean Reno (“Leon, the Professional,” “The Da Vinci Code”) and Carlos Bardem have signed letters of intent to play the painter and the friend he betrayed.

Spano sticks to historical facts where they exist, but creates events and characters when they do not. Paul Gauguin’s plagiarism stands as a metaphor for the debt he owed to Panama as a first source of inspiration for his work, a debt not always acknowledges by historians.

Another redemption tale, like “Human Persons,” “Gauguin & Canal” describes “the journey of a man, who is certainly a great painter, his passion, failings. It doesn’t judge him, but does tear down the myths about him, showing his contradictions, the richness which defines us all, and makes him highly contemporary,” Spano said.

“Human Persons” is scheduled to roll late 2014/early 2015, shooting in the U.S., Colombia and Panama, Spano said.

Spano’s acting credits include Ridley Scott’s “The Counselor” and, in Spanish, films such as Alejandro Saderman’s “Knocks at My Door.” As a director, his feature debut, femme friendship movie “Hora menos,” a co-production between Spain (Dexiderius Producciones), Venezuela (Garra Producciones) and Brazil (Panda Filmes), won best Ibero-American film and the audience award at MadridImagen, among other plaudits.

Spano’s stage play, “Gauguin y el canal,” scooped Panama’s prestigious Ricardo Miro National Theater Prize.

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