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Cannes: Latido, Morena, Movistar + Team on Javier Fesser’s ‘Campeones’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Comedy marks a departure for Academy Award-nominated director (‘Binta and the Great Idea’)

MADRID — Madrid-based Latido Films has acquired worldwide sales rights outside Spain to “Campeones,” an anticipated comedy-drama directed by Academy Award-nominated Javier Fesser (“Binta and the Great Idea”) and produced by Morena Films (“Altamira,” “Cell 211,” “Comandante”). Telefonica pay TV division Movistar Plus and Fesser’s Películas Pendelton.

Universal Pictures Intl. (UPI), which has scored heavily with Spanish movies’ domestic release, will handle distribution in Spain.

In a sign of strong TV backing, the key to a film getting made on a  good budget these days in Spain, Movistar + and public broadcaster TVE have acquired pay and free-to-air rights respectively to Spain.

“Campeones” marks the fifth feature from a director whose “Mortadelo & Filemon: The Big Adventure” garnered €22.9 million ($25.0 million) in Spain in 2003, becoming one of its highest-grossing films ever.

An upscale mainstream director who has often championed marginalized or socially-challenged minorities in films which broke out to considerable audiences, Fesser won Oscar recognition for “Binta and the Great,” a medium-feature emphasizing the importance of education for kids in Africa.

Penned by Fesser and writer-director David Marqués (“Desechos”), who has a strong sense of Spanish social realism,  “Campeones” is a “comedy shot like a drama,” Fesser said, about a Spanish ACB League coach with emotional disabilities sentenced to training a basketball team whose players have a range of learning disabilities.

“At first, the work seems like hell for him. But it’s the team that ends up helping him to solve his own emotional handicaps,” Fesser said.

Spain’s Javier Gutierrez, who was excellent in Iciar Bollain’s “The Olive Tree” and won a best actor Spanish Academy Goya and Platino Award for his performance in Alberto Rodriguez’s “Marshland,” will play the coach who is given a life lesson in “Campeones.”

Javier Fesser is one of the greatest comedy talents in Europe,” added Antonio Saura, Latido Films’ executive director.

He continued: “In ‘Campeones,’ he tells us a story that will make us laugh and touch our hearts. He is the only director in Spain with the ability to touch you while make you laugh and think.”

Shot with real-life non-pro actors with special needs, “Campeones” is “an attempt at reinvention,” Fesser told Variety The only thing he had to do was turn the camera on the actors and shoot it in a direct manner, without the stylistic flourishes of much of his comedy work, he added.

“From cinematography to art direction, costumes, the film is anchored in reality. It’s passionate, highly entertaining, full of color. It wasn’t necessary to underscore or add anything,” Fesser said.

Currently in the fourth of an eight-week shoot in Madrid, “Campeones” will be ready for delivery first quarter 2018, said Morena Films producer Alvaro Longoria. who called “Campeones” a “feel-good comedy full of positive energy and humor, an ideal original combination for Javier Fesser.”

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