BARCELONA — Paris-based Reel Suspects has acquired world rights on the second fiction feature as a director of multi-prized Spanish producer Luis Miñarro, “Love Me Not.” It is produced by Miñarro and Mexican producer Julio Chavezmontes at Piano, whose recent credits take in Sebastian Hoffmann’s Sundance winner “Time Share” and Venice competition player “The Accused.”
“Love Me Not” will have its world premiere at the upcoming Rotterdam Film Festival in its Signatures showcase, which is devoted to cutting-edge movies from preeminent auteurs.
A producer of over 30 films, including Cannes Palme d’Or laureate “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives,” Karlovy Vary Crystal Globe winner “The Mosquito Net” and “Finisterrae,” which took a Rotterdam Festival Tiger, Miñarro’s movies as a director have established him as one of Spain’s most accessibly non-conformist filmmakers frequently featured at larger festivals.
Lauded by many Spanish critics – one, Carlos Losilla, has called him “one of our most original, creative and unprejudiced filmmakers,” Miñarro’s sometimes personal films – two doc-features, “Familystrip” and “Blow Horn” and fiction feature “Stella Cadente,” which competed at Rotterdam – depict Spain’s largely unexplored history (“Familystrip,” “Stella Candente”), meditation (“Blow Horn”) and now in “Love Me Not,” gender and sexual politics.
Shot in Mexico’s Chihuahua and in Catalonia, and written by Miñarro and prominent playwright Sergio Belbel, “Love Me Not,” an allegorical drama, marks a re-reading of the biblical myth of Salome, the queen of Chalcis and Armenia Minor, who claimed the head of prophet John the Baptist. It is set in 2006 in a fictional military camp in Iraq with no identifiable army symbols, where one prisoner, Yokanaan, is a terrorist for some, a prophet for others.
“’Love Me Not’ is a subversive and insolent film, with a strong line in underlying political satire and a very Hispanic touch of madness. Its comedic narration and crossover potential will attract both cinephiles and more general audiences,”” said Reel Suspects CEO Matteo Lovadina.
He added: “We are proud to have Luis on board and to work again with Piano. Introducing the film at Rotterdam, where we won Tiger Awards two years in a row – for Sanal Kumar Sasidharan’ 2017 ‘Sexy Durga’ and Babak Jalali’s “Radio Dreams” in 2016 – can’t be more exciting.”
Starring Ingrid García-Jonsson (“Beautiful Youth”), Francesc Orella (“Smoking Room”), Lola Dueñas (“Volver”) and Oliver Laxe, director of Cannes’ Critics’ Week winner “Mimosas,” “Love Me Not” is clearly influenced by the films of Douglas Sirk.
“Sirk is always a clear reference, a filmmaker I love, Fassbinder’s father and Almodóvar’s grandfather,” Miñarro said.
“My aim is to denounce the brutality of any war, along with gender exploitation,” Miñarro added, saying that “Love Me Not” “turns on ambiguity at all levels –personal, political, behavioral.”
Questioning the cultural legacy of Western culture, “Love Me Not” also explores other myths, such as penitent and unrepentant thieves from the New Testament, personified by two soldiers named here Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
This year’s Rotterdam Festival runs Jan. 23-Feb. 3.
John Hopewell contributed to this article.