A bit of luck and a bit of good planning has seen Spanish arthouse production company Potenza Films board upcoming historical drama “The Cardinal” in a now four-country co-production with Chile’s Storyboard Media, Argentina’s Magma Cine and Brazil’s Gullane.
Already a massive period drama proposal from the Latin American producers, the COVID-19 pandemic would have been a much greater threat to production had Potenza not joined.
“This was key because it allowed us to complete our financing structure in spite of the global pandemic,” Storyboard’s Gabriela Sandoval explained to Variety. “Turning this into a feature will involve artistic and technical teams from four countries, and fulfills our original desired production model.”
Following pitching conversations at last year’s San Sebastian, where the film was one of the Co-Production Forum’s big hits, the film’s previously confirmed production team were approached by Potenza’s Carlo D’Ursi, who said it was exactly the kind of project he was looking for. Fast forward to Berlin’s EFM, where conversations heated up and eventually a co-production agreement was closed.
“Being part of a triumvirate led by two great producers like Gabriela Sandoval and Nathalia Videla represents a qualitative leap for Potenza Producciones,” D’Ursi added. “Benjamín Ávila directing and the universality of the story of ‘The Cardinal’ assure the success of this co-production.”
Argentine Benjamin Avila will direct the feature, which fits into a lifelong concern for opposition dictatorships and tyranny – both his parents were montoneros, who died fighting Argentina’s Junta, events inspiring his debut San Sebastian and Cannes player “Clandestine Childhood” – “The Cardinal” is a true-events-based drama, set in 1973 Chile.
It chronicles Cardinal Raúl Silva Henríquez’s halting, agonized build to frontal opposition of Pinochet’s regime as it slaughtered thousands of Chileans in cold blood. Silva went on to become Pinochet’s major critic in Chile, calling for democracy, and documenting and protesting the government’s human rights abuses.
Created in 2004, Potenza Producciones focuses on international co-productions in fiction, documentary and experimental features as well as short films. The company’s catalog includes Matías Bize’s Venice player “The Memory of Water,” and Netflix Original “Boss,” a Spanish Academy Goya nominee for best screenplay.