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Hughes, Le Bon, Chaplin, Ward Topline Mateo Gil’s ‘Project Lazarus’ (EXCLUSIVE)

A Spain-France co-pro, principal photography on the sci-fi love story begins Monday in Spain’s Canary Islands

Mateo Gil, co-writer of Alejandro Amenabar’s Oscar-winning “The Sea Inside” and director of Sam Shepard starrer “Blackthorn,” will go into production Monday on his third feature, “Project Lazarus,” a U.S.-set sci-fi love story starring Tom Hughes (“About Time”), Charlotte le Bon (“The Walk,” “Yves Saint Laurent”), Oona Chaplin (“Games of Thrones”) and Barry Ward (“Jimmy’s Hall”).

Dreamcatchers will handle world sales, with its head, Marina Fuentes, introducing “Project Lazarus” to buyers at next month’s Berlin European Film Market.

Also penned by Gil, also a co-scribe on Amenabar’s “Open Your Eyes” and “Agora,” “Project Lazarus” is produced by Ibon Cormenzana for Barcelona’s Arcadia Motion Pictures, which backed Claudia Llosa’s Berlin Competition player “Aloft,” with Jennifer Connelly, Cillian Murphy and Melanie Laurent, a Sony Pictures Classics pick-up for North and Latin America. A co-producer on “Blackthorn” and Isabelle Coixet’s 2015 Berlin opener “Nobody Wants the Night,” with Juliette Binoche, Rinko Kikuchi and Gabriel Byrne, Jerome Vidal at Paris-based Noodles Production will co-produce.

“A science-fiction drama with a twist of terror, having certain links to Frankenstein,” Gil commented, “Project Lazarus” turns on Marc (Hughes), a successful, ambitious man with a lot of projects in life, who is diagnosed with terminal cancer, with a few months to live. Unable to accept death, he decides to cryonize his body. His girlfriend and love of his life (Naomi Chaplin) is devastated. 2083: 60 years later, Marc becomes the first resuscitated cryonized body in the history of human kind.

“Project Lazarus” picks up on a question asked – but not answered – by “Open Your Eyes” of what somebody would feel like if they wake up to realize that everybody they have ever loved, everything they have ever known, has died or disappeared.

But Gil’s new film is not limited to the future present, Gil indicated, alternating it with scenes from the past, these first shot with vibrant colors, “shamelessly seeking characters’ feelings and sensations,” contrasting with the present, set in a aseptic world-class California clinic, surrounded by a forest.

“The most important storyline in the film is the romance,” Gil said. With its love story “returning strongly in the present, as the main vehicle of the reflections and evolution of the protagonist,” “Project Lazarus” aims to “leave the viewer feeling alive and grateful for the gifts that life offers us. Especially love,” Gil commented.

“Ever since Mateo mentioned this project to me back when we were working on ‘Blackthorn,’ I fell in love with the script,” Fuentes added. “I think Mateo has a deep understanding of life’s big issues: Success, love, ageing, death, and he did an excellent job turning these into a very profound love story. He is a modern philosopher that happens to be a filmmaker also.”

“Project Lazarus” will shoot from Monday in Spain’s Canary Island, tapping the Islands’ advantageous tax breaks, and having the Tenerife Espacio de las Artes, an ultra-modern arts center, stand in for the clinic of 2083. Studio work will be carried out in Barcelona. Production accesses Spain’s top-notch key craft talent, such as cinematographer Pau Esteve, who won a Spanish Academy Goya for “Cannibal.”

A recipient of Eurimages funding, “Project Lazarus” is also backed by Spanish pubcaster TVE, paybox Canal Plus, Catalan state TV TVC and Belgium’s Scope.

A Dreamcatchers partner, Arcadia Motion Pictures’ credits include Claudia Llosa’s Berlin Competition player “Aloft,” family period adventure film “The Adventurer,” with Michael Sheen, Lena Hedey, Sam Neill and Aneurin Barnard; “Blackthorn,” co-starring Eduardo Noriega and Stephen Rea, which was selected for the Tribeca Festival; and Pablo Berger’s “Blancanieves,” a San Sebastian Special Jury Award and Best Actress winner, which swept 10 Spanish Academy Goya Awards and was Spain’s Oscar entry.

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