Cannes: After Martin Scorsese’s ‘Silence’ Niels Juul Seeks to Bring Other Cecchi Gori Properties to the Bigscreen (EXCLUSIVE)

Back from the Taiwan set of Martin Scorsese’s “Silence,” which just wrapped shooting, Niels Juul, CEO of L.A.-based Cecchi Gori Media, is now shifting his energies to several other projects he has in various stages, including pics with Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Kafka as central characters.

“It’s been an amazing experience,” Juul (pictured with Scorsese) enthused about “Silence,” on which he is an executive producer, having been instrumental in  bringing to the screen the eponymous Shusaku Endo novel about God’s silence in the face of human suffering. Cecchi Gori holds the movie rights.

“Everyone has been bending over backwards to get this amazing movie made. Everyone taking a [pay] cut; everyone basically working for scale,” he recounted. “We are all making an amazing effort to make an independent $51 million movie.”

It’s been tough working “under extremely hard conditions,” Juuls said. But “Marty has come in on budget and on time,” he proudly pointed out, praising Scorsese’s producing partners Emma Tillinger Koskoff and Gaston Pavlovich and Manu Gargi. Cast of the spiritual drama about a 17th century Jesuit missionary includes Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver and Japanese star Asano Tadanobu (“Thor,” “Battleship”).

Scorsese located the production in Taiwan, following an introduction by Ang Lee. It was entirely shot in the territory with various locations in Taipei (Yangmingshan, CMPC Studio and the Beitou area), as well as Taichung and Hualien. Shooting wrapped on May 15.

“We believe we can make an independent movie at the $50 million level, and I don’t think we need studios. If studios only want to do Marvel and ‘Terminator’ and ‘Iron Man,’ let the rest of us make independent movies budgeted at between 30 and 70 million dollars,” said Juul. “We have now proven that it can be done,” he boasted. Paramount, which acquired U.S. distribution, is reportedly eying a November 2015 release date for “Silence.”

Here are the other projects percolating in the Cecchi Gori pipeline:

  • “El Maestro,” about how Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s feelings of love for his English teacher when he was 9 drove him his whole life. Juul has teamed with prominent Colombian producer Andres Calderon and his Dynamo shingle on this pic, which he describes as an “Il Postino”-like movie. It’s based on the novel “La Maestra y el Nobel” by well-known Hispanic showbiz journalist Beatriz Parga, who interviewed Garcia Marquez.
  • “Ferrari” — director Michael Mann has now delivered an “amazing script” on this previously announced biopic of Enzo Ferrari, which is being shopped around. “It’s a Godfather story, not a racing story,” Juul says.
  • “Kafka,” a fully owned script by John Breily (“Ghandi”), focuses mainly on the last years of in the author’s life. “Kafka wanted to burn everything he had ever written. He didn’t want anyone to know that he was an author, because he was disappointed with himself. This is the story about how that happened,” says Juul.
  • An English-language remake of Dino Risi’s “Il Sorpasso,” the classic Italian road movie starring Vittorio Gassman.

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