CANNES — Carlos Diegues’ “The Great Mystical Circus,” which unspools in a special screenings slot at Cannes, has been acquired by Madrid-based sales agent Latido Films, which will introduce it to buyers at the Cannes Film Festival.
“The Great Mystical Circus,” co-starring Vincent Cassel, traces the adventures, loves and shows of five generations of Knieps, a Brazilian circus owner dynasty, beginning in 1910. The saga is narrated by Celavi (Jesuita Barbosa, “Praia do Futuro”), a freed slave and the Circus’ never-aging master of ceremonies. Cassel plays Jean-Paul, an unscrupulous spendthrift who tries to sell the circus.
“‘The Great Mystical Circus’ is a summation of everything I’ve made before in my films, maybe the result of what I think about movie making,” Diegues said.
The Brazilian filmmaker’s 1962 directorial debut, “Cinco Veces Favela,” turned him into a Cinema Novo star. Determined to make a cinema which had a large impact in Brazil and beyond, he went on to make box office hits (1976’s “Xica da Silva”) and international players, such as 1980’s “Bye-Bye Brazil,” which reflected the wider state of contemporary Brazil.
The magic of “The Great Mystical Circus” is inspired not by magic realism but by Diegues’ ”idea of anti naturalism in the cinema,” the filmmaker said.
“I believe that movies must create an alternative to the reality in front of us. That’s what my films are about and this one above all the others,” he added.
Diegues’ films have also helped forge an enthusiasm in overseas audiences for Brazilian cinema. “I have admired Caca’s work since I started to see movies,” said Latido Films chief Antonio Saura.
“My own father [the filmmaker Carlos Saura] made me watch the great movies of that generation of brilliant filmmakers from Brazil: Nelson Dos Santos, Glauber Rocha and of course Caca Diegues. For me, they were heroes when I was growing to love films,” Antonio Saura added, saying “‘The Great Mystical Circus’ is “not only a great film by Diegues but a magnificent visual achievement, a film to watch in wonder.”
Diegues’ and Renata de Magalhaes’ Luz Magica produced “The Great Mystical Circus” with Globo Filmes in Brazil, France’s Milonga Films, and Portugal’s Fado Filmes, run by Luis Galvao Telles.
Galvao Telles, who produced Carlos Saura’s “Fados,” co-produced by Antonio Saura, brought the project to Latido Films.
“The Great Mystical Circus” was largely shot in Portugal. “Putting Brazil and Portugal together is always a good idea,” said De Magalhaes. “In this case, Portugal brought to the movie wonderful locations (including the circus), and great crew and cast.”
“Let’s fight for a new-new cinema that forefronts creativity and magic,” added Galvao Telles.