Cannes: Gael Garcia Bernal Joins ‘Neruda’ Drama (EXCLUSIVE)

Fabula, Funny Balloons, Reborn, Setembro, AZ and Participant Media partner.

Gael Garcia Bernal will co-star in “Neruda,” Pablo Larrain’s follow-up to Berlin Grand Jury Prize winner “The Club,” and one of the biggest and highest-profile of projects currently coming out of Latin America, Variety has learned.

Chile’s Luis Gnecco, who stars in “Profugos,” the hit narco TV series Larrain directed for HBO Latin America, will portray Neruda. Garcia Bernal is playing Inspector Oscar Peluchoneau, who organized the police manhunt for the Nobel-winning Chilean poet.

“Neruda” is produced by Fabula in Chile, France’s Funny Balloons and Reborn Prods., Spain’s Setembro Cine and Argentina’s AZ Films.

Jeff Skoll’s Participant Media has also boarded as a partner. Peter Danner’s Funny Balloons introduces “Neruda” to buyers at the Cannes Film Market.

Set for a June production start, “Neruda” captures the poet between 1946 and 1948, when he joined Chile’s Communist Party, was elected as a senator, railed against the imprisonment of striking miners, was threatened with arrest, became a fugitive, and began writing “Canto General,” a 231-poem ode to Latin America.

Mercedes Moran, Alfredo Castro and Pablo Derqui co-star.

“The film turns on Pablo Neruda’s defining his identity as a human being, where he stands for the rest of his life,” said Fabula’s Juan de Dios Larrain, who produces with Funny Balloons’ Danner and Renan Artukmac, Marc Simoncini at Reborn, Setembro’s Fernanda del Nido and AZ Films’ Alex Zito and Ignacio Rey.

“ ‘Neruda’ is a very ambitious, open and entertaining movie; it’s not a conventional biopic of a writer, but rather mixes film noir, some deep meaning and fun,” Danner added.

Screenplay is from Chilean playwright Guillermo Calderon, who co-penned Andres Wood’s “Violeta Went to Heaven,” a Sundance 2012 World Cinema Jury Prize winner.

Garcia Bernal starred in Larrain’s Oscar-nominated “No,” which marked Participant Media’s first investment in a foreign-language film.

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