MADRID – Tribeca winner “Manos Sucias,” a pioneering U.S.-Colombia production exec-produced by Spike Lee, has been acquired for worldwide sales by 6 Sales in the run-up to Cannes.
WME Global is handling the picture’s U.S. sale.
The feature debut of U.S. scribe-helmer Josef Kubota Wladyka, and produced by Elena Greenlee, Marcia Nunes, Mirlanda Torres Zapata and Carolina Caicedo, “Manos Sucias” screened at the 2014 Tribeca Festival where it won Best New Narrative Director Award and placed second in the Heineken Audience Award.
World premiering at Colombia’s Cartagena Festival in late March, “Manos Sucias” follows two estranged brothers, both Afro-Colombian fishermen, who embark on a fishing-boat from Buenaventura, Colombia’s biggest Pacific Coast port and a violent drug trade emporium,. Their mission is to tow underwater a “narco-torpedo” packed with 100 kilos of cocaine to Panama. En route, they must circumnavigate marauding paramilitaries and impoverished villagers eager for their cargo, plus rising friction between them.
What is striking in “Manos Sucias” is its mesh of action, social-issue drama and moral dilemmas in a tale grounded in both its characters and a painstaking recreation of locale.
During film development, it became clear that “however difficult it might be to shoot in this area of Colombia on a logistics level, it would be impossible to re-create this world, its texture and authenticity anywhere else,” the U.S.-based Greenlee said.
Of the films leads, Jarlin Javier Martinez, who plays the brooding elder brother, graduated from the Dramatic Arts Program at Cali’s Universidad del Valle. Limning his sibling Delio, an outgoing wannabe rapper, Cristian James Abvincula was enrolled in the same department when the film shot. Much of the dialogue is in Buenaventura patois.
“Manos sucias’” equally meshed classic U.S. indie-style financing, including a $60,000 Kickstarter campaign, with coin from top Colombian players such as broadcaster Caracol TV and Cine Colombia, the country’s biggest distributor-exhibitor, which acquired theatrical rights. Colombian investors benefitted from a 41% tax credit.
From the U.S., “Manos sucias” was exec produced by Lee, Regency Bois, Marisa Polvino and Kate Cohen at Santa Monica-based Heart Headed Productions.
“Manos sucias” tapped a Spike Lee Fellowship Award, with the film becoming a Spike Lee/40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks presentation. Lee served as Wladyka’s tutor at NYU.
“There has never been a film that takes audiences into such an authentically Colombian world, executed with a U.S. indie film production strategy. Nor one that blends local talent so seamlessly with more classical American genre elements,” Nunes said after the film wrapped production.
6 Sales will introduce “Manos sucias” to buyers at the Cannes Market where it will receive two screenings.
“When our team saw Manos Sucias we were ecstatic for the discovery. Josef’s talent is undeniable. We could not believe this was a first film so we decided we needed to shine a light on it so the world will enjoy the same experience we had discovering it,” said Fuentes.
At WME Global, Christine D’Souza and Mark Anker will oversee “Manos Sucias’” sale to the U.S.