Cannes: France’s Cité Films, Memento Films Board ‘The Desert Bride’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Both moves highlight one of Latin America’s most-anticipated movies at Cannes

PARIS — Building the film’s status as one of Latin America’s buzzed-up Cannes titles, Raphael Berdugo’s Cité Films has made the unusual move – for Cité at least – of taking world sales rights to Cannes Un Certain Regard entry “The Desert Bride.”

A Paris-based production company, Cité Films generally only handles world sales on its own in-house co-productions.

In a second development which will raise the cachet of “The Desert Bride,” Memento Films, one of France’s most prestigious upscale distributors, has boarded “The Desert Bride” as its French distributor.

Both events will only stoke buzz on a title which marks the feature debut of Argentine directorial duo Cecilia Atán and Valeria Pivato and a model of Argentine-Chile co-production. Produced by Atán, Pivato, Chile’s Ceibita Films and, from Argentina, Eva Lauria, Raul Aragon and El Perro en La Luna, “The Desert Bride” stars Paulina Garcia, a best actress winner at Berlin for Sebastian Lelio’s “Gloria,” in  a very different turn as a 54-year-old live-in-maid in Buenos Aires who staid life is upturned when she loses her job and is forced to travel to the sticks for employment in San Juan, a provincial capital surrounded by dusty plains. When she also loses her bag early in the trip, her ordered life hits rock bottom. But the journey will prove her salvation.

In genre type, “The Desert Bride” is a romantic road-movie. But it is much more, insisted Berdugo: “This is the feel-good story of a woman’s metamorphosis, the transformation of her life and vision of herself, made delicately step-by-step, about someone who was a bird in a cage and finds her freedom and rediscovers life.”

Also, “it has a totally amazing performance by Paulina Garcia,” Berdugo added.

“The Desert Bride” proposes “a jump into the void to change direction. Thinking that everything has been decided, or is still to be decided, is really the same thing, leaving us at a standstill facing the inevitable,” the directors have said.

Vanessa Ragone’s Haddock Films, producer of not only the Academy Award winning “The Secret in Their Eyes,” co-produces. Lucero Garzon serves as associate producer.

First seen at the Berlin Co-production Market, “The Desert Bride” won the two big prizes – the Films in Progress Prize and the Cine Plus in Progress Special Prize, the latter adjudicated by the movie channel division of giant French paybox Canal Plus – at the 31st Films in Progress which unspooled late March at France’s Toulouse Cinelatino Fest. That was also where Berdugo caught the film.

For him, “this is also a film made by two Argentine directors about a woman who is some years older.” Berdugo added: “That allows them to introduce some youth elements into the film and show that youth is not a question of years. It’s  something sleeping in you and you can revitalize or reawaken again with some little changes.”

“The Desert Bride” also represents an inspired co-production between Argentina and Chile, the production tapping Garcia, part of Chile’s great acting tradition – think Alfredo Castro or Luis Gnecco – which is now breaking out to international recognition. To be seen at this year’s Cannes in Marcela Said’s Critics’ Week entry “Los Perros,” Castro starred in Venezuela-Mexican Venice Golden Lion winner “Far Away”; Garcia has starred in “Narcos” and “Little Men.” Ace “Neruda” cinematographer Sergio Armstrong lenses “The Desert Bride” in Cinemascope.

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