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Paris-based Eurozoom has snapped up French distribution rights to “The King of All the World,” a musical drama directed by “Carmen’s” Carlos Saura and lit by “Apocalypse Now” cinematographer Vittorio Storaro.

The deal follows on a private screening of “The King…” by sales agent Latido Films, held for European distributors in a Madrid cinema theater. Eurozoom plans a theatrical release for “The King…,” Saura’s first fiction drama since 1998’s Oscar-nominated “Tango,” at 100 locations in France.

Having held back from showing “The King…” at the Pre-Cannes Screenings, Latido will introduce the musical to more buyers at its cinema theater market premiere at Cannes.

“This is a film to be enjoyed on a big screen, and then re-thought on a smaller one. But first in cinema,” said Latido Films CEO Antonio Saura.

“When you have the talent of Vittorio Storaro, incredible music, some of the finest actors in Mexico and Spain, and superb dancers, why limit the experience to a small screen?” he added.

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Linking not only to “Tango” but also Saura’s Cannes and BAFTA winning “Carmen,” “The King of All the World” (“El rey de todo el mundo”) is in some ways hallmark Saura, shuttling between studio rehearsal and dancers’ supposedly non-staged reality outside.

In it, celebrated Mexican choreographer Sara (Ana De la Reguera) is invited by Manuel (Manuel García Rulfo), a stage director, to help him prepare a new musical.

Inés, a beautiful young dancer from Mexico City’s humble outlying districts, wins the part of the female lead. But her performance and indeed life, is threatened by her feckless father, who’s tried to put one over on the local mob.

Set and shot in a huge hanger, “The King of All the World” captures Saura’s lifelong rush of joy at artistic performance rather than finished art. This he shares with audiences through the sudden revelation of excerpts from stunning paintings of the Mexican revolution, a haunting, spare rendition of the song “La Llorona,” dancers emerging from behind studio screens to perform to Lila Down’s “La Cumbia del Mole”; or Cuco Sánchez’s superbly rendered song of the same title, about the indignities of love.

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The King of All the World Courtesy of Latido Films

If classic Saura, “The King of All the World” also has a very contemporary edge, in its use of technology, its vision of machismo – subtler than in “Carmen,” but still prevalent – and his updated take on “violence,” an issue that has inspired career highs, from 1965’s “La Caza to 1981’s “Deprisa, deprisa.”

“We are honored to be working with the maestro Carlos Saura, truly the king of the whole cinematographic world himself! A highly talented and tireless artist, filmmaker and storyteller who’s blessed movie lovers for decades and possesses the unique ability to bring both experience and an explosion of youth to the big screen,” said Eurozoom CEO Amel Lacombe, and Romain Brosolo, its head of acquisitions.

“We loved everything in ‘El rey de todo el mundo,’ the story, the characters, the music, the dance and of course the fabulous photography of Vittorio Storaro, they added. “We are looking forward to bringing this wonderful cinematic experience to French cinema and are happy to continue our trusted relationship with the Latido team.”

Said Juan Torres, Latido Films’ head of international sales: “We are hugely satisfied that after an exclusive event organized by Latido in Madrid for French distributors a client with whom we have excellent relations has decided to acquire this new masterpiece by Carlos Saura.”

“The King of All the World” is produced by Eusebio Pacha for Pipa Films in co-production with Pacha Producciones  e Inversiones Audiovisuales, UDG Canal 44 and the Comision de Filmaciones del Estado de Jalisco (COFIEG).

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Carlos Saura Courtesy of Latido Films