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Berlin: Gael García Bernal’s ‘Museum’ Powers Up Sales for Luxbox

Major territories closed with prestige distributors on Mexico’s competition contender

The highest-profile Latin American film at Berlin, Alonso Ruizpalacios’ “Museo” (Museum), starring Gael García Bernal, has racked up first major territory sales, with more in the pipeline, its sales agent, Luxbox, announced out of Berlin.

World premiering Thursday in Berlin competition, “Museo,” – a “gorgeous, giddy shaggy-dog movie,” according to Variety – has been licensed to France (Memento Films Distribution) and Italy (I Wonder Pictures), Greece (Spentzos Film), Turkey (Bir Film) and Taiwan (Filmware International).

Cinepolis Distribución, the theatrical distribution arm of Mexican exhibition giant Cinepolis, acquired rights to Mexico and the rest of Latin America in a deal announced on the eve of the Berlin Film Festival.

Interest in the film has grown, said Luxbox’s Hedi Zardi. “We have received offers from many additional territories, and look forward to closing more deals this weekend,” said Distant Horizon’s Anant Singh.

That should come as no surprise. Written by Ruizpalacios and Manuel Alcalá and marking the director’s follow-up to Berlin’s 2014 Best First Feature winner “Güeros,” “Museum,” a largely ‘80s Acapulco-set heist-road movie. is inspired by true facts: one of Mexico’s most laughably inspired and inept robberies, in which, on Christmas Eve 1985, two drop-out university students loot 140 priceless Mayan and Meso-American pieces from Mexico’s National Museum of Anthropology which they then find impossible to fence.

As with “Güeros,” the richly cine-literate movie – Variety, in its review, catches ”Museum” referencing Hitchcock, Looney Toones, “Rififi,” “The Doors” and Bresson –  can be read on multiple levels.

Ruizpalacios describes it as an “allegory for young people’s search for identity and meaning.” The more socially-minded have read it as an allegory for Mexico itself, plundered until it becomes “a replica of the original,” as an initial title describes the movie.

Produced by Mexico’s Panorama Global and Detalle Films, and starring Gael García Bernal, Leonardo Ortizgris, Alfredo Castro, Bernardo Velasco and Ilse Salas, “Museum” is also an instance of a new breed of large Latin American arthouse films whose prestige international producer backing – here Singh’s Distant Horizon and Robert Lantos’ Serendipity Point Films – allows it the budget to deliver meticulous craftsmanship across many levels.

“Museum” has received some – though not all – rave reviews, Variety describing it a “made of dazzle and wit and melancholy” and “fabulously entertaining.” “Güeros” proved one of the best sellers for IM Global-owned Mundial. “Museum’s” sale to France – a reference market for art films as is the U.S. for more commercial propositions – is with one of its most prestigious upscale film distributors, Memento Films Distribution’s Alexandre Mallet Guy describing it as “both entertaining and very subtle.”

He went on: “It’s not only about the most unbelievable heist you could ever imagine, but it’s also a portrait of a truly touching soul, wonderfully incarnated by Gael García Bernal, and also a surprising road trip through a fascinating country as Mexico can be.”

I Wonder Pictures’ Andrea Romeo added that “films like “Museo” open new horizons and new hope for world cinema.”

“Museum” is produced by Gerardo Gatica and Alberto Müffelmann, Ramiro Ruiz and Manuel Alcalá. It is exec produced by Moisés Cosío, García Bernal, Singh, Brian Cox, and Lantos – an example of García Bernal leveraging his star status in the cause of artistically ambitious cinema.

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