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Cannes: Cristina Zumarraga, Pablo Bossi Launch Tandem Films (EXCLUSIVE)

First slate includes Gustavo Hernandez’s ‘Insomnes,’ projects from Norberto Lopez Amado, Iciar Bollain, Juan Pablo Buscarini, Marina Seresesky

PARIS — Argentina’s Pablo Bossi (“Nine Queens”), a leading producer of the new Argentine Cinema, and Spain’s Cristina Zumarraga, who has overseen production of some of its biggest (“Alatriste”) and most challenging (“Even the Rain”) productions, are teaming on a new production house, Tandem Films.

Based out of Madrid, it looks set, at least in a first-phase, to work a Latin America-Spain-Europe access, producing high-end film and TV from a broad range of more accessible but still artistically-ambitious Spanish-language auteurs. 

Tandem Films’ first-slate projects include “Insomnes,” from Gustavo Hernandez (“The Silent House), starring Belen Rueda (“The Orphanage”), and “La Elvira,” a sweeping period adventure from Norberto Lopez Amado (“Sara’s Notebook”).

Further directors with projects in development include Iciar Bollain (“The Olive Tree,” “Even the Rain”), Juan Pablo Buscarini (“Perez”) and Marina Seresesky (“The Open Door”).

Spain’s new subsidy regulations “means that it’s important to have a certain financial muscle, credibility with television operator and distributors, which is another reason to ally and grow,” Zumarraga said. 

Yet, to be introduced by Zumarraga and Bossi at next week’s Cannes Festival, Tandem Films can also look to various competitive advantages.

“Tandem’s aim is to make co-productions, with Pablo Bossi as the Latin American leg, due to his longterm ties with that continent, and me as the one in Europe, since I have experience in European co-productions,” said Zumarraga.

Bossi added that Tandem will work to broaden the company’s reach to “further-afield international markets.”

To initiate such co-productions, Tandem can draw on multiple contacts and big international production experience accumulated by Bossi and Zumarraga in distinguished 25-year careers: Now based out of Spain, where he has established production company Gloriamundi, Bossi’s credits take in famed and recent Ricardo Darin movies such as “Nine Queens,” Academy Award-nominated “The Son of the Bride” but also “Koblic” and “Black Snow.” Zumarraga served as head of production on Oliver Stone’s “Persona Non Grata” and “Looking for Fidel,” Steven Soderbergh’s “Che: The Argentine” and “Guerrilla,” and Wim Wenders’ “Submergence.” She is a member of the European Producers Club and Ace.

Another asset is ambition. “We’re aiming for films with budgets slightly above normal, ambitious films, international projects for a global audience, with strong relevant characters and an original approach,” Zumarraga said. 

As the world’s theatrical markets contract around a limited number of titles, whether Hollywood or local blockbusters or independent international breakouts, Tandem Films is also angling to work with significant auteurs whose directorial and accompanying screenwriting talent can attract top-class stars, co-production partners and public and private-sector investments.

That can be seen from Tandem’s projects. Uruguayan Hernandez’s “Insomnes,” for instance, will star Belen Rueda (“The Orphanage” ) and Natalia Molina (“Living is Easy With Eyes Closed”) in a paranormal psychological thriller about two women, Blanca and Cecilia, members of a 1970s radical theater troupe that experiments with days without sleep in order to perform a play, turning on madness and death, written and performed by patients at a psychiatric hospital 30 years before. They also rehearse at the same hospital where the play’s creators died in mysterious fire, which is also the play’s climax.  

Written by Juma Fodde Roma (“Splendorous Garden of the Heart”), it continues the hallmark claustrophobia of Hernandez whose debut, the Elle Driver-sold “La Casa Muda,” was a breakout 2011 Cannes Festival hit and the subject of a U.S. remake by “Open Water’s” Chris Kentis and Lara Lau.

“La Elvira” is a survival drama-epic based on true events, set in 1949 as over 100 Spaniards set sail from the Canary Islands on a ramshackle schooner fleeing dirt poverty and, for some, jail or execution in Francisco Franco’s Spain. Adriana Ugarte, one of Spain’s biggest marquee values  (“Palm Trees in the Snow,” “The Time In Between”) and Elvira Minguez (“The Invisible Guardian”) star; Norberto Lopez Amado is attached to direct after “Sara’s Notebook,” potentially one of Spain’s biggest hits of the next 12 months.

Other Tandem Films projects include “La Boda de Rosa,” from Iciar Bollain “ and “Turu, La Gallina Turuleca,” an animated feature directed by Juan Pablo Buscarini and targeting child audiences, which is being structured as a Spain-Argentina co-production. 

Tandem Films is in development on “Never Seen Before,” directed by Spain-based Argentine Seresesky and an original comedy about the integration of immigrants and abandoned small villages throughout Spain, said Zumarraga. It is set to shoot in Winter 2018. Confirmed cast includes Carmen Machi, Hugo Silva, Berta Vázquez and Petra Martínez, she added. 

Zumarraga and Bossi are also in negotiations for Spain’s Dani de la Torre – whose debut “Retribution” has just been picked up for a remake by Jaume Collet-Serra, with Liam Neeson – to direct thriller “Tiburon.” 

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