Alina Fernandez

Maven Pictures has joined Mankind Entertainment in producing historical drama “Castro’s Daughter,” Variety has learned exclusively.

Maven’s Celine Rattray and Trudie Styler will be joining the production as lead producers with developing producers John Martinez O’Felan, Joe Lamy and Mexican filmmaker Luis Mandoki, who came on board last July to direct.

The screenplay was redeveloped this year by Mandoki and Nilo Cruz, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Anna in the Tropics.” Cruz escaped Cuba as a child. Oscar winner Bobby Moresco (“Crash”) is also credited as a co-writer.

The announcement comes six months after the July 20 resumption of normal ties between the U.S. and Cuba.

“Castro’s Daughter” is based on the life story of Alina Fernandez, who was born in 1956 — three years before her father Fidel Castro took power. Fernandez was Castro’s love child with Naty Revuelta, a wealthy socialite who sold her belongings to sponsor and co-finance Castro’s army and allowed her home to be used as a headquarters for planning his coming to power.

She fled Cuba as a dissident in 1993 disguised as a Spanish tourist and later wrote her memoir “Castro’s Daughter: An Exile’s Memoir of Cuba.” She now lives in the U.S., but has returned several times to Cuba, most recently in March, 2014, for her mother’s funeral.

Mandoki’s credits include “When a Man Loves a Woman,” “Message in a Bottle” and “Gaby: A True Story,” which followed the life of the child of Austrian immigrants in Mexico who suffered from cerebral palsy. Mandoki has also travelled to Cuba and met Fidel Castro during an entertainment festival in Havana.

The project has been in development for several years. Wilmer Valderrama and Catalina Sandino Moreno had been attached to star in 2013, with Sarah Siegel-Magness directing.

“Alina is much like a Mona Lisa of modern time and is a symbol of faith and empowerment for women around the globe,” O’Felan said. “And we think that Celine and Trudie are the perfect producers to help deliver this project of importance as the world watches the U.S and Cuba go through such a positive transformation for the sake of humanity.”

The production aims to film on location in Cuba with Alina Fernandez herself on set during shoot as a voice of the project.

Maven is a financier on “American Honey,” starring Shia LaBeouf and Riley Keough.” The coming of age drama was sold in mid-January to A24.

Rattray was a producer on “The Kids Are Alright” and “Bernie.” She and Styler were executive producers on “Still Alice.” Under the Maven banner, they’ve produced “Black Nativity,” “Filth,” “Wilding” and “Freak Show.”

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