Cohn, Duprat prep ‘Ciudadano ilustre’

Pic's budget twice that of duo's previous film

BUENOS AIRES – Argentine helmers Mariano Cohn and Gaston Duprat are preparing “Ciudadano ilustre” (Illustrious Citizen), their biggest feature yet as they build on the box office of “El hombre de al lado” (The Man Next Door).

“Citizen” has a $1.7 million budget, more than twice that of “Man Next Door” and their latest time-travel adventure “Darling, I’ll Get My Cigarettes and Be Right Back,” which bowed May 5 in Buenos Aires.

The $600,000 “Man Next Door,” which won cinematography at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, grossed $550,00 on 140,000 admissions in Argentina and pulled a profit on international sales for theatrical release in Europe, the U.S. and elsewhere.

“Citizen” is about a famous writer who returns to his hometown in Argentina to accept an honor only to find people turn against him violently.

The directors will produce under their Television Abierta banner with Argentina’s Aleph Media, behind their previous films, and other outfits for an August 2012 release.

Cohn and Duprat emerged last decade as prolific directors, with festival winners that are gaining wider acceptance with the general public, a combination that is driving sales.

The pair started out in TV in 1998-99 with a program in which families filmed themselves doing whatever they wanted, an experiment predating “Big Brother” and YouTube. They went on to direct docu “Yo Presidente” and art-crime tale “The Artist.”

Cohn and Duprat are setting themselves apart for their popular films with artistic twists, a model they call pop art along the lines of Woody Allen, Quentin Tarantino and Joel and Ethan Coen — something quite different in a country known for director-driven minimalism.

“There are thousands of ways to make movies, and we are looking for innovative ways,” said Cohn.