Spanish fuel Soderbergh’s ‘Che’ films

Telecinco productions arms invest in projects

This article was updated on Feb. 11, 2007.

BERLIN — Spanish broadcaster Telecinco’s production arm Estudios Picasso and Morena Films are set to take a minority co-production stake on Steven Soderbergh’s two films about Che Guevara, the Cuba-set “The Argentine” and the late-life “Guerrilla,” both toplining Benicio del Toro as the revolutionary.

The co-production contract should be signed next week. The only issue still to be pinned down is whether the films could shoot in part in Spain.

Combined budget for the two comes in under $70 million. They’ll both be shot in Spanish.

At a press conference Friday, Soderbergh was asked about the pics and made a point of talking up the validity of filming characters in the language in which they would ordinarily be speaking.

“There’s no credibility if characters don’t speak in their own language,” he said, adding that in America, it’s becoming more common and acceptable for multiple languages to be used in a movie, a la “Babel.”

“The language choice was not a problem with our backers,” he pointed out, referring apparently to Wild Bunch.

Pic is mainly financed and is being sold by France’s Wild Bunch. Laura Bickford, who produced Soderbergh’s “Traffic,” will produce the film. Peter Buchman and Benjamin Van Der Veen penned the respective scripts; production will begin in May.

Germany’s Franka Potente and Spain’s Javier Bardem have been talked up for parts, with Bardem being eyed for Castro, but still have not signed on the dotted line.

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