Paris-based Ad Vitam, one of Europe’s high-profile art/crossover distributors, has acquired all French rights to awaited espionage thriller “Smoke and Mirrors,” Spaniard Alberto Rodriguez’s large-scale follow-up to fest, sales and B.O. hit “Marshland,” which sold out the world.
Warner Bros. will distribute in Spain, with its release scheduled for this fall. Telefonica Studios, which cherry-picks the most commercially and artistically attractive of Spanish titles, has boarded as a co-producer.
Kicking off “Smoke and Mirrors’” international roll-out, the France deal announcement, a bellwether for other overseas territories, comes in the run-up to next week’s Berlin European Film Market, where Vicente Canales’ Film Factory, “Smoke and Mirrors” sales agent, as on “Marshland,” will be unveiling exclusive footage from “Smoke and Mirrors.”
Specializing in accessible high-profile arthouse/crossover and indie movies such as Lazlo Nemes’ “Son of Saul” and Deniz Gamze Erguven’s “Mustang,” both Academy Award nominated in the foreign-language category, Ad Vitam can punch standout results on select titles, when they click. “Whiplash” and “Mud” both scored about $4.5 million in France.
“We are proud and thrilled to be the French partner of the new film by Alberto Rodríguez. We believe that ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ will be one of the great films of the year,” said Gregory Gajos, Ad Vitam’s head of acquisitions.
Written by Rodriguez and regular co-scribe Rafael Cobos, “Smoke and Mirrors” (aka “El hombre de las mil caras”) is based on a real-life case, and a shadowy espionage figure, which both riveted Spain for years.
“Smoke and Mirrors” stars Eduard Fernandez (“The Skin I Live In,” “Biutiful”) as Francisco Paesa, a Madrid-born businessman, Swiss banker, arms-dealer, subterfuge maestro, playboy, gigolo, thief and secret agent, who is shopped by his own government in 1986 but still supported by his faithful friend Jesus Camoes (Coronado). Years later, ruined and separating from his wife, he is approached by Luis Roldan (Carlos Santos), a former head of Spain’s Civil Guard, with a scheme to get Roldan out of the country and safeguard two luxury properties in Paris and the Antibes and $9 million that Roldan has pilfered from public funds.
Paesa sets out to wreak revenge on the Spanish government and steal Roldan’s money in what the film’s producers describe as a brilliant and intricate operation worthy of the best spy stories of the Cold War. He will also, naturally, try to seduce Roldan’s wife (Marta Etura, “The Impossible”).
Punching powerful production pedigree for Spain, Zeta Cinema, Atresmedia Cine, Atipica Films, Sacromonte Films and Telefonica Studios produce “Smoke and Mirrors,” in association with Movistar Plus, Canal Sur and Atresmedia. Fernandez has won two Spanish Academy Goyas, Coronado and Etura on each.
“Smoke and Mirrors” weighs in as one of Spain’s most ambitious productions of 2015-16. “When I see the end result, I realize that all the difficulties we have had to overcome were well worth it,” said Jose Antonio Felez, co-producer and executive producer of “Smoke and Mirrors.”
He added: “Making a film like ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ has been a challenge: We filmed more than 200 scenes in four countries (France, Spain, Singapore and Switzerland) and in over 100 different locations. This is a film with high international appeal as the enormous interest from distributors all over shows. We are very happy to have Ad Vitam as our partner in one of the world’s most important territories.”