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Piano Boards Abel Ferrara’s ‘Siberia,’ Makes ‘La Noche Blanca’ (EXCLUSIVE)

LOS CABOS  —  Driving ever deeper into the international co-production of some of the world’s highest-profile auteurs, Mexico’s Piano has boarded Abel Ferrera’s “Siberia,” starring Willem Defoe.

A Mexico City production-distribution house headed by Sundance winning producer Julio Chavezmontes and director Sebastian Hoffman, Piano will produce the film with its other lead producers, Italy’s Vivo Film and Germany’s Maze Pictures.

“Siberia” adds to an ever larger slate at Piano, which includes co-production on “Annette” French cult director Leos Carax, and lead production on Mexican documentary feature “La noche blanca,” from newcomers Yollotl Alvarado and Tania Ximena. Piano is already co-producing “Memoria,” the Colombia-set drama from Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul who dazzled the Cannes Festival in 2010 with Palme d’Or winner “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives”; and “Bergman Island,” from Mia Hansen-Love.

Very little is known about “Siberia” which Ferrara originally announced in 2015 in Cannes calling it an exploration of the language of dreams, and a vehicle for Dafoe. At 2018’s Cannes, Vivo Film was announced as the main producer, teaming with German producer Philipp Kreuzer’s Maze Pictures. The film has obtained funding from Italy’s Alto Adige IDM and Germany’s Bavarian Film Fund. The Match Factory represents international rights.

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The producers were reported last year as in talks with Chavezmontes and Piano to come on board. That has now happened.

Tracking the spiritual odyssey of a man in search of redemption, “Siberia” takes the audience on what is described as a fantastical journey through frozen tundras, ancestral forests and endless dune seas. “Siberia” is “an iconoclastic epic; fearless in the way audiences have come to expect from Abel Ferrara. It is also a wholly unique entry in his filmography, that surrenders itself completely to the language of dreams,” said Chavezmontes. He added: “It’s an honor to work with a filmmaker of Abel’s stature, on such an ambitious project”, saying that the film has lensed in Italy, Germany, and Mexico, with each country bringing a full crew to the film, for “a truly international collaboration.”

Now shooting, documentary feature “La Noche Blanca” follows the surviving members of a Zoque village in southern Mexico, who were forced to flee the violent eruption of a nearby volcano twenty years ago. Now, they return to the site of their ancestral home, buried under the ashes of the eruption, to unearth a church bell that can be the key to their future.

“It’s a deeply moving human story, and a real collaboration with the Zoque villagers, who are not just the subject of the documentary, but also part of the crew” said Chavezmontes, who added that the doc-feature should be ready for delivery by the end of the first half of 2020.

“One of the most positive developments of the last few yeas is a deep reassessment of diversity in the film industry. There is a growing expectation that people should be involved in telling their own stories, and presenting their own reality, not just being the subjects of another point of view”. Chavezmontes said. He went on: “The new leadership at [Mexican Film Institute ] Imcine has shown remarkable leadership in this respect, offering support and visibility to communities that had long been neglected. The new post-production center in Chiapas is a fantastic initiative, that will be a lifeline to indigenous filmmaking.”

Said Chavezmontes: “We are very fortunate to be in a position to produce or coproduce films by acclaimed international directors, but we also feel a responsibility to push for wider diversity in Mexico. Piano as a company is committed to help promote new voices, that have not been traditionally involved in filmmaking. This documentary is a first step in that direction.”

Deadline Hollywood announced last month that Simon Helberg was joining Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard on Leos Carax’s Amazon musical “Annette,” which has begun to shoot. Carax’s first full English-language film, set in Los Angeles and starring Driver and Cotillard as star-crossed lovers,“Annette” is produced by Charles Gillibert’s (“Personal Shopper”) at CG Cinema and Driver and Paul-Dominique Vacharasinthu (“The Jesus Rolls”) of Tribus P Films.

Piano’s Chavezmontes figures as one of the film’s co-producers which also take in Fabian Gasmia (Detail Films), Benoit Roland (Wrong Men), Geneviève Lemal (Scope Pictures) and Kenzo Horikoshi (Eurospace).

Said Chavezmontes: “Leos is the kind of visionary director who can make a film that becomes a cultural touchstone, that becomes part of a much wider conversation. I fully believe “Annette” will have this impact in 2020, and I’m incredibly excited to be part of it.”

A Neon North America. pick-up, “Memoria” has wrapped principal photography having shot entirely in Colombia, with a Colombian, Mexican and Thai crew. Cast includes acclaimed Mexican-Spanish actor Daniel Giménez Cacho. Post-production of “Memoria” will be carried out in Mexico next year.

Producing titles which are rooted in a local territory – “La Noche Blanca,” “Memoria” –  and this with a far more international setting – “Siberia,” “Annette,” Piano is looking to respond to he simultaneous interests of audiences in a digital age.

“Audiences expect a level of authenticity in storytelling that can only be achieved through meaningful collaboration between people of diverse backgrounds. A single point of view is no longer sufficient to convey the complexities of the contemporary world. We want story that feel truthful to culture in which they take place, but resonate as universal.”

Chavezmontes is represented at CAA by Federica Saint-Rose, Nick Lafferty, and Crystal Caicedo.

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