“The King of the Whole World” (“El Rey de Todo el Mundo”), a musical drama directed by “Carmen’s” Carlos Saura and lit by “Apocalypse Now” cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, has been snapped up for world sales by Latido Films.
The deal was sealed as the Toronto Festival hit its full stride on Friday. Spanish distribution rights have been acquired by distribution house Syldavia.
Starring Ana de la Reguera (“Ana,” “Army of the Death”), Manuel García Rulfo (“Magnificent 7,” “Greyhound”), “The King of All the World” is fiction – so more in line with Saura’s Cannes and Bafta winning “Carmen” (1983) as well as “Tango” (1998), for which Saura has won international fame and Oscar nominations, than his latter-day, more informative documentaries.
Damián Alcazar (“Narcos,” “La Delgada Línea Amarilla”) and Enrique Arce (“Money Heist,” “Terminator Dark Fate”) co-star.
The plot is hallmark Saura: World-famous choreographer Sara (De la Reguera) is asked by her former boyfriend Manuel, a stage director (García Rulfo), to help him prepare a new play.
A highly competitive casting call follows; two of the top dancers, Diego (Isaac Hernández) and Inés (Greta Elizondo), are chosen to perform the lead roles and fall in love.
But Inés has doubts about continuing in the production, mostly due to a complicated relationship with her father Angel (Enrique Arce) who has pulled one trick too many with a mobster Don Anselmo (Alcázar) who will stop at nothing to seek revenge.
Hernández is the lead dancer of the English National Ballet, Elizondo the lead dancer of the Mexican National Ballet.
Juxtaposing art and reality in a dizzy mix where it is not easy to distinguish the two, “The King of the Whole World” is described as a musical drama that turns on the need to dance, create and love and how hard all of this is in a dangerously ultra-competitive world.
The title marks Saura’s first embrace of Mexican music, folk and modern, working with top-notch Mexican and Latin talent as, thanks to the exploding Spanish-language drama series scene, the region is beginning to develop its own star system.
A Mexican-Spanish production of Pipa Films, the film marks the solo debut as a producer of entrepreneur Eusebio Pacha after he served as associate producer on the box office hit “Los del Tunel” and documentary “Sara Baras, todas las voces.”
Filmed principally at the Conjunto Santander de Artes Escénicas in Mexico’s Guadalajara, its second biggest city, “The King of the Whole World” was made with the support of Mexican film-TV agency Imcine, Mexico’s Eficine 189 tax deduction program, Guadalajara U and the Jalisco Film Commission.
Currently in post-production, where it has initiated its mixing, “The King of the Whole World” will be ready for delivery in the next few months.
One of the world’s few jobbing directors who made his first feature debut in the 1950s – with 1959’s “Los Golfos” – Saura’s 1965 Berlin best director winner “The Hunt” remains the crowning achievement of the New Spanish Cinema.
Made with producer Elías Querejeta, in the following 15 years, his films were embraced at art houses around the globe as a cinema that took a stand against the arcane dictatorship of Francisco Franco, while plumbing the psychological complexity of young minds, love, and creation.
His roster of 1970s Cannes laureates – 1974’s “Cousin Angelica” (Jury Award), 1976’s “Raise Ravens” (Special Jury Award) and 1977’s “Elisa, My Life” (best actor, for Fernando Rey) – led to a Berlin Golden Bear win for 1981’s “Deprisa, deprisa,” another career high.
By then, Saura had begun with 1981’s “Blood Wedding” and 1983’s “Carmen” to direct musical documentaries and dramas that retain his key concerns but sealed a global reputation for filming beauty in motion. Weighing in as a return to a kinetic world of art, “The King of the Whole World” is his latest full fiction dance musical after “Carmen” and “Tango.”