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Platino Awards: Telefe, Telefonica Studios Board Ricardo Darin Starrer ‘Black Snow’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Deal rolls off the evergreen appeal of Darin, winner of a Lifetime Achievement Prize at tonight’s Platino Awards kudocast

PUNTA DEL ESTE, Uruguay — Argentine TV network Telefe and Telefonica Studios have boarded Martin Hodara’s thriller “Black Snow,” starring Ricardo Darin, signing on as co-production partners.

Axel Kuschevatzky announced the deal to Variety at Punta del Este, the Uruguayan resort where Darin will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at Sunday night’s 3rd Platino Ibero-American Awards ceremony.

Marking the second feature from Argentina’s Martin Hodara, who teamed with Darin to co-direct 2007’s “La señal,” “Black Snow” is produced by Spanish outfits A Contracorriente Films, Bowfinger International Pictures and Gloriamundi Producciones. Argentina’s Pampa Films and Tieless Media co-produce. Guido Rud’s FilmSharks Intl. handles world sales.

The announcement of the involvement of Telefe, Argentina’s top free-to-air broadcast network, and Telefonica Studios, the production arm of telco giant Telefonica, come as FilmSharks revealed further sales at Punta del Este on another Darin title, Sebastián Borensztein’s “Koblic.”

Opening in Spain (via DeAPlaneta), Argentina and Uruguay (Disney), it has also closed Chile and Peru (Andes Films), Brazil (Paris Films) and Central America (Palmera intl.). U.S., Colombia, France, Germany Turkey, South Korea and Australia are all under discussions, according to Rud.

“Black Snow” will be distributed in Latin America by Disney and in Spain by producer A Contracorriente.

Darin’s Platino Awards Lifetime Achievement Prize, burgeoning sales on his latest films and co-production of “Black Snow” by Telefe/Telefonica Studios can all be put down, in part at least, to the “Darin effect.” Of Spanish-speaking-world actors, bar those who work at least part time in Hollywood – Antonio Banderas, Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem – few command the marquee appeal in or outside his native country of the 59-year-old Argentine.

In terms of overseas theatrical box office, after cutting his teeth in multiple local TV series, and breaking through with Juan Jose Campanella’s “Same Love, Same Rain” (1999), Darin has starred in two of the three big Argentine international hits of the last decade: Campanella’s Academy Award-winner “The Secret In Their Eyes” (2010), which grossed $6.4 million for Sony Pictures Classics; and Daniel Szufron’s “Wild Tales,” which swept last year’s Platino Awards, and earned $38.9 million worldwide.

Quizzed Saturday at Punta del Este by Variety, Darin put his success down to “Luck. I am really a lucky man. I thought that I was one of the luckiest persons in this world until I knew my son. He is even luckier than me, basically due to what he has inherited from his mother.”

Darin’s Cheshire Cat good looks may melt the heart of a nun. But while, in real life, he portrays himself as as an ordinary Joe who has seen good fortune, many of his films have him in the role of an ordinary Joe who experiences bad. That allows for large empathy with male audiences whatever the plot iterations: In “The Secret of His Eyes,” his love affair with a co-worker is cut short by Argentina’s Dirty War. They re-meet half a life later. In “Black Snow,” he plays Salvador, who was wrongfully accused when a teen of murdering his own brother, and has retreated to the wilds of Patagonia. In “Wild Tales,” his character blows a fuse over a parking ticket, channelling the frustrations of a nation.

Or in “La Cordillera,” the anticipated upcoming title by Cannes Critics’ Week winner Santiago Mitre (“Paulina”), the question is whether the president of Argentina, played by Darin, is really an an ordinary Joe and, if push comes to shove, will give up his political career for his family.

Also, when selecting a film to act in, Darin has an exacting and also particular taste.

“’Snow’ offers extreme beauty and sophistication, being at the same time a tough thriller,” said Telefonica Studios’ Axel Kuschevatzky, after seeing a first rough cut some days ago.

In the specific case of Argentina, Telefe-Telefonica Studios pursue a combination of production models, aiming at a mass audience auteur-driven cinema, he went on.

“We have to build a cinema capable of connecting with audiences but also of expressing personal worlds, which is situated at moral crossroads,” Kuschevatzky added, citing “The Secret in Their Eyes,” “Wild Tales,” Sebastian Borensztein’s “Chinese Takeaway”and “Paulina.”

It is no coincidence that Darin starred in three of these titles, as in Cesc Gay’s “Truman,” for which he has won an acting nomination at this year’s Platino Awards. Going to a Darin movie, an audience knows it will be about something – the social divide and the seething frustrations of downtrodden classes in “Wild Tales”: the still roiling horror of Argentina’s Dirty War in “The Secret if Their Eyes” –  but that they will be mightily entertained along the way.

John Hopewell contributed to this report  

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