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Berlin: Poet Pablo Neruda Subject of Pablo Larrain’s Next Pic (EXCLUSIVE)

Chilean helmer co-writing script with playwright Calderon; in talks for funding with Participant

BERLIN – Pablo Larrain, whose “No” was the first investment by Jeff Skoll’s Participant Media in a foreign-language film, has set his next movie, “Neruda,” a portrait of the 1971 Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda, a towering figure in Latin American literature.

Set up at Chile’s Fabula, the production house which Pablo Larrain runs with producer-brother Juan de Dios Larrain, “Neruda” – a working title – is set in a defining moment of Neruda’s life, between 1946 and 1948, when he became a member of Chile’s Communist Party, was elected Senator, spoke out against the imprisonment of striking miners and threatened with arrest, went into hiding and began writing “Canto General,” a 231-poem ode to Latin America.

“The film turns on Pablo Neruda defining his identity as a human being, where he stands for the rest of his life,” said Juan de Dios Larrain

Larrain is currently writing the screenplay with Chile’s foremost playwright Guillermo Calderon, who co-wrote Andres Wood’s “Violeta Went To Heaven,” a Sundance 2012 World Cinema Jury Prize winner.

As a founding member of the Participant PanAmerica production fund, Fabula is in co-financing/production talks with Participant Media, Juan de Dios Larrain said.

Also set up at Fabula, Sebastian Lelio, director of last year’s Berlin best actress winner “Gloria,” is writing “Iguazu,” a project at the Berlin Co-production Market. A “step forward” after “No,” and step-up in budget, “Iguazu” turns on a man who belongs to the same late 50s generation as the eponymous heroine of “Gloria,” Lelio said.

“But if ‘Gloria’ was inspiring and uplifting, ‘Iguazu’ is moving,” he added.

Two other leading Chilean directors, Sebastian Silva (“The Crystal Fairy,” “Magic Magic”) and Cristian Jimenez (“Bonsai”), have moved into post-production on their latest films, Silva’s Kristen Wiig-starrer “Nasty Baby” and Jimenez’s “Voice-over.”

“The Berlinale coincides with Chile’s most-recognised directors being in development or production on movies. There are a lot of films coming soon,” said CinemaChile exec director Constanza Arena.

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