MADRID – Completing one of the biggest Latin America- U.S.-Europe co-productions in history, Canana, the Mexico-L.A.-based production house of Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna and Pablo Cruz, has boarded Lucrecia Martel’s “Zama,” one of Latin America’s most awaited and most ambitious movies.
Further – and final – co-producers are Luis Urbano’s O Som e a Furia in Lisbon and Michel Merkt’s KNM.
A partner with IM Global in Mundial, a pioneering Latin America sales company, and with Participant Media in Participant PanAmerica, beyond its own lead productions – “Miss Bala,” “Cesar Chavez,” Cannes 2015 Un Certain Regard player “The Chosen Ones” — Canana has been a key driver of first moves to create a pan-regional Latin American film industry, co-producing milestone recent Latin American co-productions such as Pablo Larrain’s “No” and Pablo Fendrik’s “Ardor.”
“We are thrilled to join such a group of colleagues — all admired — and for such a marvelous project; we love Lucrecia’s world, and we are excited to develop a relationship for the future with such a voice and such a team,” Cruz told Variety.
Merkt’s producer or executive producer credits include movies by high-profile auteurs — David Cronenberg’s “A Map of the Stars”; Paul Verhoeven’s upcoming “Elle,” with Isabelle Huppert; and Anton Corbijn’s “Life,” with Robert Pattinson.
Based out of Lisbon, O Som e a Furia has produced Miguel Gomes’ “Our Beloved Month of August” and Eugene Green’s “The Portuguese Nun” and distributes its own films in Portugal. It also produced Manoel de Oliveira’s final film, “The Old Man of Belem.”
Sold by the Match Factory, “Zama,” currently in production, now boasts one of the largest and most prestigious lineups of producers of any recent film from Latin America.
Buenos Aires-based REI Cine, headed by Benjamin Domenech, Santiago Gallelli and Matias Roveda, and Vania Catani’s Rio de Janeiro-based Bananeira Films produce “Zama.”
Hinting at its scale, its wide-ranging co-producers are spread over over Spain, Argentina, France, the U.S, and the Netherlands, taking in El Deseo, run by Pedro and Agustin Almodovar and Esther Garcia, Argentina’s Disney-backed Patagonik Film Group, France’s MPM Film, Danny Glover and Joslyn Barnes’ U.S.-based Louverture Films, Lemming Film and Picnic Producciones.
Martel calls “Zama” a parody. It adapts the novel of the same name by Argentine Antonio di Benedetto, first published in 1956, now regarded as a masterpiece.
Written under the full force of existentialism, “Zama” centers on Diego de Zama, an officer of the Spanish Crown, who serves out his time in a provincial backwater, awaiting a promotion and transfer to Buenos Aires that never comes. That wait gives an absurd sense to his life. Finally, Zama joins a party of soldiers that go after a dangerous bandit. Zama leaves to distant lands inhabited by wild Indians and gains the chance to live life to the full.
Also penned by Martel, “Zama” exhibits some of the last decade innovations in Latin American film financing. Canana’s participation leverages Mexican Eficine tax deduction funding.
Reflecting Brazil’s weight in Latin American co-production, which has increased significantly over the last five years, Brazilian production investment is weighty about $700,000– and multi-faceted, tapping into support from the dedicated Ancine-Incaa Brazil-Argentina co-production fund, Audiovisual Law Article 3A tax-break finance from premium TV channel bouquet Telecine and direct support from Brazil’s Fundo Setorial Audiovisual, said Catani.
“Brazil is adopting a highly relevant political approach to collaboration with the rest of Latin America,” Domenech commented.
The breadth of “Zama’s” co-production is seen in key cast and craft credits. Mexican-Spanish actor Daniel Giménez Cacho (“Club de cuervos”) plays Zama. Other main cast takes in Spain’s Lola Dueñas (“Volver”), Brazil’s Matheus Nacthergaele (“Blue Blood”) and Argentina’s Juan Minujín (“2+2”), Nahuel Cano (“Taped”), Ivan Moschner (“La noche del lobo”), and Rafael Spregelburd (“The Film Critic”).
From Brazil, there are secondary roles for Mariana Nunes (“Pele”), Evandro Melo (“Meu Pedacinho de Chao”) and Nanego Lira (“The Grain”).
Of key craft, Portugal’s Rui Poças, the d.p. on Miguel Gomes’ “Tabu,” a Berlin 2012 Alfred Bauer and Fipresci winner, will serve as cinematographer. Renata Pinheiro (“Tattoo”) and her team overseas art direction, Karen Harley (“The Second Mother”), also from Brazil, is “Zama’s” editor.