MADRID — The fight over Michael Radford’s Spanish Civil War comedy “La Mula” (The Mule) continued this week with lead producer Alejandra Frade of Madrid-based Gheko Films answering critics.
“The Mule’s” three co-producers — Gheko, Radford’s London-based Workhorse and Dublin’s Subotica Entertainment — have been locked in a financial and creative wrangle since Oct. 30 when Radford suspended production six weeks into a seven-week shoot.
Frade did not sign documents that would’ve released Irish and British funds allowing Radford to continue the film, then handed it over to helmer Sebastien Grousset to complete. Gheko is finishing post-production without Radford and Subotica.
But on Wednesday, Frade said that Radford had ceded his authorial and intellectual rights on “Mule” via a director’s contract.
She said Gheko had fulfilled all its obligations under the co-production contract but Subotica and Workhorse had failed to meet their financing obligations.
Gheko, in contrast, lent money to its co-producers to part cover their production costs, Frade said.
Frade alleged — as she did in late October — that Radford abandoned the shoot “suddenly and unjustifiably,” adding that he had “not lifted one little finger” to assume his directorial responsibilities in the last eight months.
Frade has yet to sign off on key inter-party agreements and other documentation — including standard form lab, collection agency and sales agent agreements — needed to unlock just over $2.2 million in funds from the U.K. Film Council and the Irish Film Board that would allow Workhorse and Subotica to cash flow their production commitments.
Radford argued that he had been advised by his lawyers at New Media Law that he would have been personally liable for debts incurred if he had gone on shooting.
Efforts were made to reach an agreement. On March 5, UKFC CEO John Woodward and IFB head Simon Perry flew to Madrid with their legal teams to meet Gheko’s lawyers.
Both parties agreed to work toward a settlement in which Radford could finish the film, but no settlement has been reached.
The settlement agreement proposed in March by Subotica and Workhorse did not stipulate time limits after which possible reshoots would be ruled out, Frade told Daily Variety, nor how much “Mule” would draw down from Section 481 Irish tax coin, nor action to be taken in the case of shortfalls caused by a change in the pound exchange rate.
Four months later, the thorny question of who owns “The Mule” remains.
Subotica producer Tristan Orpen Lynch told Daily Variety that Radford had worked for over two-and-a-half years writing and directing “Mule” without being paid anything by Gheko: So Radford retains moral rights to the film, Orpen Lynch argued.
Ignasi Guardans, director general of Spain’s ICAA film institute, has recommended to Frade that she accept third-party arbitration.
Frade said that any dispute about non-fulfillment of contractual obligations will “have to be decided in court.”
(Emiliano de Pablos contributed to this report.)