One of France’s best known actors, Jean Reno (“Leon: the Professional,” “Ronin,” “The Da Vinci Code”), is attached to star in “1.200 Almas” (“1,200 Souls),” a fantasy thriller from the Zaragoza-based producer-director tandem of Marta Cabrera and Pablo Aragüés whose “Novatos” proved a Netflix worldwide distribution pick-up.
L.A.-based Outsider Pictures Paul Hudson is handling world sales rights and executive produces along with Zaragoza VFX house Entropy Studio.
Despite Reno’s Spanish origins – his parents hail from Cadiz in Andalusia – “1.200” marks the first Spanish film for an actor who has sought to buck typecasting in a multitude of roles whose international titles take in “Nikita,” “Mission: Impossible,” “Godzilla” and “The Last Face.”
Reno, who won a European Film Academy’s European Achievement in World Cinema Awardin 2000, joins Swiss-Spaniard Ingrid García-Jonsson, who broke out with Jaime Rosales’ 2014 Cannes Un Certain Regard entry “Beautiful Youth,” scoring a Spanish Academy best new actress nomination, and Nicolás Coronado, star of Aragüés’ second movie, “Novatos.”
Since the late ‘90s, Spain has carved out a reputation for an auteur genre titles which twin fantasy genre narrative with more social or personal concerns. “1,200 Souls” seems no exception. a highlight of June’s Small is Beautiful showcase, it is set in a small town nestling in the lap of the high Pyrenees, to which a young woman, Carla, returns to scatter her mother’s ashes, only to be confronted by violence, deaths and the seemingly supernatural, such as the spontaneous combustion.
Reno will play the role of Jacques the Frenchman, a hermit who knows more than he lets on and proves the only villager who stands by Carla as she seeks to get to the bottom of events.
Aragüés said that he wrote the screenplay of “1,200 Souls” with Reno in mind, calling it a “privilege” to work with such an actor.
In 1939, at the tail-end of the Spanish Civil War, thousands of Spaniards fled Spain over treacherous passes in its Pyrenees attempting to reach France and a safe haven from poverty, jail and even execution at the hands of Franco’s victorious Nationalists. A film about “a girl looking for her origins,” Cabrera told Variety, “1,200 Souls” has “a background of refugees during the 1930s Spanish Civil War, which is a mirror [reflecting] the conflicts of refugees today, fleeing from horror.”
“1,200 Souls” will go into production in Summer 2018, shooting entirely in Aragón, whose authorities are championing the title: the supernatural thriller is Aragón TV, the Government, Aragón, Zaragoza Town Hall and Aragon Film Commission.