Paris-based Luxbox have acquired Martín Benchimol’s “El Castillo” for international sales, excluding Argentina.
Produced by Gema Films, the drama marks the solo feature debut for Benchimol whose “The Dread,” co-directed by Pablo Aparo, scooped best medium-feature doc at 2017’s IDFA.
The story tracks Justina, a maid, whose lifelong devotion to her employer is rewarded with a castle. The grand property is set deep within the Argentinian Pampa. The gift comes with one condition, Justina must never sell the castle. The film stars newcomers Alexa Olivo and Justina Olivo.
“We discovered ‘El Castillo’ in the WIP Latam at San Sebastián where it is becoming tradition that we pick up a film!” Fiorella Moretti, president of Luxbox told Variety.
She added: “We are more than thrilled to join forces once again with Gema Film, … A poetic and heartfelt film filled with longing and hope, not short of delightful charm and animals!”
There is clear symbiosis between Gema Films and Luxbox right now, with the latter’s acquisition of “Pornomelancholy,” a stand out from WIP Latam in 2021 at San Sebastian. Of the relationship, Gema Juárez Allen of Gema Films said, “We’re immensely happy to be working for the second time in a row with a company we admire for its courage to work with unique and singular films.”
The Argentine producer continued: “Martin Benchimol’s first solo feature is an endless source of happiness for us in a time when producing and financing auteur films is a huge challenge. ‘El Castillo’ portrays a story that has touched our hearts from the beginning and we’re now convinced that with the collaboration of Luxbox the film will reach the hearts of our audience.”
There has been a long tradition of Latin American projects seeking French co-production partners, as there can be large benefits to having links to Europe’s largest and best funded arthouse market. The film continues this trend with France’s Heidi Fleisher and Julie Paratian of Sister Productions on board as co-producers, alongside Argentina’s Mayra Bottero and the aforementioned Gema Films. The project is expected to be completed in January 2023.
Marta Balaga contributed to this article.