First Production Stills From Pablo Larrain’s ‘Neruda,’ With Gael Garcia Bernal (EXCLUSIVE)

Participant Media acquires North American rights on 'Neruda,' the latest Participant PanAmerica production

Variety has had exclusive access to the first stills from the set of Pablo Larrain’s “Neruda,” one of the biggest movies coming out of Latin America.

Now shooting on location in Chile, “Neruda” reunites Jeff Skoll’s Participant Media with “No” director Larrain and star Gael Garcia Bernal. It is also the next film under the Participant PanAmerica initiative.

An international co-production between Chile’s Fabula, France’s Funny Balloons and Reborn Productions, Spain’s Setembro Cine and Argentina’s AZ Films, “Neruda” is co-financed by Participant Media, which has also acquired North American rights.

Twentieth Century Fox will distribute “Neruda” in Chile. It will premiere in the winter of 2016.

A portrait of the makings of Chile’s Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda as a man, artist, legend and political renegade, “Neruda” is set between 1946 and 1948 as the Cold War kicks in hard. Neruda – played by Luis Gnecco (HBO’s “Profugos”) – now a member of Chile’s Communist Party and a Senator, criticizes the government for its imprisonment of striking miners. The President of Chile calls for Neruda’s arrest. On the run, with Chile’s police, lead by Inspector Oscar Peluchonneau (Bernal), in hot pursuit, Neruda began writing “Canto General,” a 231-poem history and ode to Latin America.

Some of Neruda’s earlier poetry might be technically finer; but nobody in Latin America has written a poetry work of such scale or categorical sympathy for Latin America’s dirt-poor masses. Yet Peluchonneau is determined to deliver Neruda, a fugitive now sheltered by Chile’s underground opposition, to his President.

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

Screenplay is from Chile’s foremost playwright, Guillermo Calderon who co-penned Andres Wood’s “Violeta Went To Heaven,” a Sundance 2012 World Cinema Jury Prize winner. Juan de Dios Larrain produces “Neruda.” Participant’s Skoll and Jonathan King serve as executive producers. Co-producers are Funny Balloons’ Peter Danner and Renan Artukmac, Marc Simoncini at Reborn Productions, Setembro’s Fernanda del Nido and AZ Films’ Alex Zito and Ignacio Rey.

Funny Balloons’ Danner introduced “Neruda” to potential buyers at May’s Cannes Film Market.

Launched in 2013 by Participant Media in partnership with three top Latin American production houses – Fabula, Mexico’s Canana and Colombia’s Dynamo – Participant PanAmerica aims at developing and financing socially significant films for and from Latin America. The first Participant PanAmerica film, Pablo Fendrik’s “Ardor,” also starring Garcia Berna, as well as Alice Braga, premiered at the 2014 Cannes Festival and is now available on-demand in the U.S.

Oscar-nominated, “No” was Participant Media’s first investment in a foreign-language film. “Neruda” marks Larrain’s follow-up to 2015 Berlin Grand Jury Prize winner, “The Club.”

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