SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain — In a stellar deal for the burgeoning Basque industry, Entertainment One’s Seville International has acquired world sales rights outside Spain to “Advantages of Traveling by Train.”
The anticipated feature debut of Aritz Moreno, “Advantages” is lead-produced by San Sebastian-based Señor y Señora, an up-and-coming production house owned by Moreno and producer-director Leire Apellaniz.
Madrid’s Morena Films has boarded as a co-producer. The company’s previous credits include Oliver Stone’s Fidel Castro docu-trilogy, Steven Soderbergh’s “Che” and movies by Spain’s Iciar Bollain (“Even the Rain”), Daniel Monzon (“Cell 211”) and Daniel Calparsoro (“Rob a Thief,” Spain’s No. 1 local box-office hit this year).
“Advantages” — penned by Javier Gullon, the screenwriter of Denis Villeneuve’s “Enemy” — marks Señor y Señora’s first fiction feature. It adapts the cult novel by Spain’s Antonio Orejudo, published in 2000, turning on a literary agent, Helga, who is forced to intern her husband in a psychiatric clinic.
Boarding a train home, she meets one of the sanatorium’s psychiatrists, Agustin Sangustín, who diagnoses patients through their writings, which he carries around in a red folder. He offers to tell her his life story, narrating three stories about one patient. But when Sangustin gets off the train to buy a sandwich, it sails off without him, leaving the folder in Helga’s possession.
A story of stories within stories, told with verve by highly unreliable narrators, “Advantages of Traveling by Train” is “a film about what is true and not true, what we believe and don’t believe, what’s important and not, and the multifarious forms of derangement which we live with in society,” said Apellaniz.
“Advantages” has a completed second-draft screenplay, she added.
“The most interesting part of the project is Aritz Moreno, the director, and Leire Apellaniz, the producer. They are a fantastic team. We saw Aritz’s shorts, which we really liked. ‘Colera’ in fact is one of my favorites,” said Morena Films founder-producer Juan Gordon.
That said, “the story is really at some times very funny, at others surprising and at others quite sick. That combination is eye-catching, and surprising,” he added.
EOne’s Seville International and Morena have a good working relationship, Seville acquiring world sales rights to “El Olivo” and Julio Medem’s “Ma ma,” starring Penelope Cruz.
“The combination of a more experienced producer working with fresh and young talent – and when I say that, I don’t mean just actors and directors, I mean producers as well – is certainly something I mean to nurture,” Gordon said.
A director in her own right, Apellaniz helmed docu-feature “The Last Summer,” about an open-air cinema impresario, which was selected for Karlovy Vary.
Señor y Señora is currently shooting “La foto imposible,” directed by Ana Gutierrez Schultz and Cristobal Fernandez, who worked as an editor on Oliver Laxe’s ”Mimosas,” which won Cannes 2016 Critics’ Week Grand Prix.