Having won the backing of Mediapro, one of Spain’s biggest media groups and an old ally, Woody Allen’s next and as-yet-untitled feature, provisionally titled “Rifkin’s Festival,” is an homage to the Spain’s biggest movie event, the San Sebastian Festival, as well as the town of San Sebastian itself.
The feature will be sold by internationally by and goes into production Wednesday. Mediapro founder Jaume Roures said on Tuesday at a news conference in San Sebastian that no distribution agreement has as yet been closed for Spain.
Distribution prospects in Europe could be good, however, Allen said. “I’ve been very lucky over the years that I’ve had a very good public in Europe, and they’ve enjoyed my films, and I think from early signs they will enjoy this one.” Though dropped by Amazon in the U.S., “A Rainy Day in New York” will be released in Italy and Germany in the fall.
Except for a boycott by the leftist Basque party EH Bildu of a reception thrown for Allen on Tuesday by the mayor of San Sebastian, the reception in Spain for Allen has largely been warm. That did not mean, however, that he was not questioned repeatedly on the virtual lockout by the U.S. industry after Amazon and other U.S.-based companies declined to release “A Rainy Day in New York.” This followed renewed sexual molestation allegations leveled against him from 2016 by his adoptive daughter Dylan Farrow.
Allen was asked whether he ever thought of retiring. “I have not thought of retiring because I never think of retiring,” he said. “My philosophy has always been, no matter what happens from when I started many years ago, to just keep focused on my work and keep working and no matter what has happened in my life with my wife, children, current events, politics, illness, no matter what has happened I focused on my work.”
Allen added: “I don’t think of political or social movements. I’m not equipped mentally to have insights into those things. I deal in human relations and comedy. I think I’ll probably never retire and die in the midst of setting up a film shot on a set making a movie.
His new untitled film is set during the San Sebastian Intl. Film Festival, the biggest film event in the Spanish-speaking world. “Festivals have become too much about stars and commerce,” whereas they used to be more about tributes to great filmmakers, Allen said. “I feel festivals should represent the highest form of cinema as art and give a chance to great new filmmakers to come along and great veterans to be at the best artistically.”
Allen wrote the screenplay of his film so that his family could spend the summer in San Sebastian, “I remembered San Sebastian from having been here for the festival as an exceptionally beautiful city and very charming. It seemed like a place I and my family would enjoy for the few months it takes to make a film.”
He declined to go into much new detail about the movie, which follows a married American couple, played by Cristoph Waltz (“Inglourious Basterds”) and Gina Gershon (“Killer Joe”), who fall in love with other people while attending the film festival.
“She has an affair with a brilliant French movie director, and he falls in love with a beautiful Spanish woman who lives there,” Spanish producers The Mediapro Studio said in a statement last month. “It is a comedy-romance that resolves itself in a funny but romantic way.”
Mediapro, The Mediapro Studio’s Barcelona-based parent company, co-produced previous Allen films “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” and “Midnight in Paris,” both of which won Academy Awards: a best supporting actress Oscar for Penelope Cruz in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” the first Oscar ever won by a Spanish actress, and an original screenplay award for Allen on “Midnight in Paris.”
Bowing in 2008, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” grossed $96.4 million worldwide and $23.2 million in U.S. domestic. Released in 2011, “Midnight in ParIs” earned $151.1 million across the globe, including a domestic $56.4 million, Allen’s career record, before adjustment for inflation.
Letty Aronson’s Gravier Productions, which co-produced both with Mediapro, as well as Allen’s “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger,” will fill that role again on the new film, producing with The Mediapro Studio.
The film features an international cast to match the scope of its setting and narrative, including Spain’s Elena Anaya (“Wonder Woman”), France’s Louis Garrel (“Godard Mon Amour,” “A Faithful Man”), Spain’s Sergi López (“Pan’s Labyrinth,” “A Perfect Day”) and long-time Allan regular Wally Shawn (“Radio Days,” “Fog and Manhattan”). Anaya, Lopez, Gerson and Shawn attended the press conference in San Sebastian.