Vincent Cassel
Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic

Circus dynasty dramedy is latest movie from Cinema Novo vet

Vincent Cassel (“Black Swan”), French actress Catherine Mouchet and Brazil’s on-the-rise Jesuita Barbosa (“Tattoo”) are attached to star in “The Great Mystical Circus,” the latest movie from the still highly-active Brazilian Cinema Novo vet Carlos Diegues (“Xica da Silva,” “Bye-Bye Brazil”), president of Cannes’ Camera d’Or jury in 2012.

“Circus” looks set to be one of the highest-profile Brazilian art films now moving towards production. Diegues’ and Renata de Magalhaes’ Luz Magica, France’s Milonga Films, and Portugal’s Fado Filmes, run by Luis Galvao Teles, produce.

A road-movie/dramedy, Diegues’ seventeenth feature spans a century from 1910, charting the fortunes, misfortunes, loves, passions, perversions and circus shows of five generations of Knieps, a Brazilian circus owner dynasty. The story is told by Celavi, a freed slave, who is master of ceremonies from the age of 17 to 117.

Mouchet plays the Virgin Empress, a supposed European aristocrat and founder Fred’s real mother. Barbosa, who broke through in Hilton Lacerda’s “Tattoo,” which won him best actor at Rio last year, takes on the role of Celavi. Cassel, who has already acted in Portuguese in Hector Dhalia’s Un Certain Regard player “Adrift,” plays Jean-Paul, an unscrupulous spendthrift who tries to sell the circus.

Written by Diegues and George Moura, who co-penned Walter Salles and Daniela Thomas’ “Linha de passe,” and laced with lyricism, wider resonance about the state of Brazil, and, in its finale, a touch of magic, “Circus” is being billed as a summation and celebration of Diegues’ whole career.

Inspired by a poem by celebrated Brazilian writer Jorge de Lima, “Circus” was turned into a musical by famed singer-songwriter Chico Buarque and Edu Lobo. Songs from the musical will be used throughout the film, along with different musical acts.

Almost entirely shot in Portugal, and line produced by Fado Filmes, “Circus” goes into production in September and will be ready for delivery in March 2015.

Diegues’ credits also include “Tieta de Agreste” and “God is Brazilian.” He received a tribute from the Cannes Festival in 2013.

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