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CANNES: Memento Films Intl. Takes ‘Refugiado’

Paris-based Memento’s slate also include Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s ‘Winter Sleep’

PARIS –Driving into Latin America, which has given it breakout successes, such as Natalia Smirnoff’s “Puzzle,” Paris-based Memento Films International (MFI) has acquired world sales rights to Pablo Lerman’s anticipated Directors’ Fortnight title “Refugiado.”

“Refugiado” joins a Cannes slate which includes, in other selected titles, competition screening “Winter Sleep,” from Nuri Ceylan Bilge, one of Cannes most laurelled directors of late, and Jim Mickle’s Sundance Festival hit, “Cold in July,” which also plays in Directors’ Fortnight.

The fourth feature from Lerman, “Refugiado” was thrown into the international limelight last year at Cannes when it become one of the first three films to receive funding from Paris-based Backup Media’s new B Media Global fund, along with buzzed-up Danish genre movie “When Animals Dream,” now in Critics’ Week, and Un Certain Regard U.K. player “Snow in Paradise.”

Aimed at bringing French financial know-how and clout to non-French movies made around the globe, English or local-language, B Media Global puts up gap funding that can often greenlight a title.

Made against a film’s international revenues outside a film’s home territories, BMG coin is not just a financial advertisement but also a money-backed prediction that a film can travel. “That was the other main statement behind B Media Global,” said Thibout.

The fourth feature of Diego Lerman, who burst onto the New Argentine Cinema scene in 2002 with Locarno Silver Leopard winner “Suddenly,” “Refugiado” is “an urban road-movie and a sort of domestic thriller at the same time, a living, simple and very emotional film.”

It turns on a 7-year-old Marias who returns from a friend’s birthday party, dressed in Spiderman costume, a home one day to find his mother, Laura, unconscious lying on the floor. When she recovers her senses, they hurt to a hostal for women who have been the victims of domestic abuse, Matias clutching Tito, his little plastic dinosaur.

Two days later, when Laura decides to leave the shelter and begin to rebuild her life, they begin a whirlwind tour of the city. Seen through the eyes of Matias, it becomes a mystery, sometimes a threat. Slowly, he comes to terms with the fact his world has transformed.

Taking as its central character an easy-to-hurt person forced to confront a strange new world, “Refugiado” harks back in some ways to “Suddenly.” Above all, said its producer Nicolas Avruj, it offers the spectator large emotional investment in a film where they are always rooting for Matias.

“We have been big fans of Diego Lerman’s work since his debut ‘Suddenly’ and have been very happy to provide production funding on ‘Refugiado’ as part of Backup Media Global’s first slate,” said Joel Thibout, Backup Media co-founder.

“This films gets close to its characters, you love the two central characters and never leave them,” said Thibout.

Lead-produced by Buenos Aires-based Campo Cine, run by Lerman and Avruj, “Refugiado” is co-produced by Poland’s Staron Film whose partner Wojciech Staron served as cinematographer on the film, France’s Bellota Films whose partner, Dominique Barneaud, co-produced Lerman’s “The Invisible Eye” when at Agat Films, Diana Bustamante’s Burning Blue in Colombia, Gale Cine in Argentina, co-run by Victoria Galardi, and Rio Rojo Contenidos and 27 Films Production.

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