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Zapata, Escobar, Moreno Team for ‘Butterflies’ (EXCLUSIVE)

A big step-up for Zapata, globetrotting love drama to shoot in English

Budding Brazil-based Colombian auteur Juan Zapata (“Simone”) is teaming with Brazilian actress Daniela Escobar (“The Clone”) to produce his second feature: “Butterflies,” a love story which, in a sign of its ambition, will shoot in English in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Rio de Janeiro, Amsterdam and Munich.

Born at the 2014 Gramado Film Festival in South Brazil, where Zapata and Escobar decided to create a full-bore international production, “Butterflies” is currently initiating production and will shoot through October.

It will star Marlon Moreno, lead of “Dog Eat Dog,” whose Sundance 2008 selection effectively brought down the flag on the New Colombian Cinema, and Escobar whose credits include, of movies, “Underground Game” by Roberto Gervitz – and several Globo soap operas, such as “The Clone”, “América”, “Caribbean Flower,” aswell as the TV series, “A Casa das Sete Mulheres.” Moreno will soon be seen in Colombia’s version of Argentinean smash hit “Corazon de Leon.”

Underscoring an increasing trend in Latin America towards multilateral co-production – to pare risk, grow budgets in synch with directors’ ever-greater ambitions and make a more unequivocally international production as local production finance in the Rio Grande do Sul region decreases – “Butterflies” is produced by five companies in four countries: in Brazil, the director’s own label, Zapata Filmes, based out Rio Grande do Sul, along with investments of Linkenheim Participações Societárias; Colombia’s Ley en Movimiento; U.S. shingle BWL, which will associate produce; and Spain’s Astronauta Films.

Brazil and Paris-based Tucuman Films will serve as the distributor in Brazil.

Also written by Zapata and Escobar, “Butterflies” “shows, from a feminine point of view, how to believe again in love after intense mourning,” Zapata said.

Movie raises the bar considerably in scope and actors’ clout after Zapata’s freshman film, “Simone,” a relationship drama set in the Rio Grande do Sul region – and benefitting from local detail – which comes in at very common emotional needs from a not so common perspective.

“A story of freedom and the search for happiness,” in Zapata’s words, which was inspired in part by the life of its lead, Simone Telecchi, it borders documentary in some scenes, an increasingly common facet of movies made in Rio Grande do Sul (think “Castanha”) or, indeed, Brazil’s Pernambuco (think “August Winds”).

“Simone” turns on a lesbian, an actress, who has to decide whether to continue with her young woman lover, also a thesp, or accept a stable relationship with a doting man she’s uncertain she loves. She attempts the latter, without being able to give up her girlfriend: No love is perfect.

“Simone” was released simultaneously in five countries in 2013 and selected for multiple festivals, such as San Francisco, Mar del Plata, Tribeca, Torino and Geneva, among others.

Zapata also served as the director of the Rio Grande do Sul Film Institute.

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