BBC Films is set to produce a biopic of Cuban ballet superstar Carlos Acosta from “I, Daniel Blake” writer Paul Laverty. Germany’s The Match Factory will handle worldwide sales on the project, titled “Yuli,” and introduce it to buyers in Cannes.
Currently in pre-production, “Yuli” will see the world-renowned dancer star as himself, with two younger Cuban actors playing him at earlier stages of his life. Directed by Spanish filmmaker Iciar Bollain, it is scheduled to shoot in Havana at the end of this year. “Yuli” marks Laverty’s fourth collaboration with Bollain, a relationship that started with 2010’s “Even the Rain.”
Inspired by Acosta’s autobiography “No Way Home,” the film tells the story of his rise from the streets of Havana to the heights of classical ballet, becoming the first black principal guest dancer at the Royal Ballet in London. The film will feature eight contemporary dance pieces that represent key moments in Acosta’s life, to be performed by his Havana-based dance company.
Laverty’s collaborations with British auteur Ken Loach have become a staple of the Cannes Film Festival. Nine of their films have received world premieres in official competition, winning eight prizes, including a Palme d’Or last year, for “I, Daniel Blake,” and in 2006 for “The Wind That Shakes the Barley.” Their 2002 film “Sweet Sixteen” won Laverty Cannes’ best screenplay award.
Bollain’s “Even the Rain” cinematographer Alex Catalan and Academy Award nominated composer Alberto Iglesias have also signed on for “Yuli.” Catalan won a Goya Award for best cinematography for his work on 2014 film “Marshland.” Iglesias has been nominated three times for an Oscar for his original scores to “The Constant Gardener,” “The Kite Runner” and “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.”
“Yuli” was developed by BBC Films, which produces alongside the U.K.’s Potboiler Prods. and Spain’s Morena Films. Germany’s Match Factory Prods. and France’s Mandarin are also co-producing.