"Our grand work plan"
by Alfonso Rivivera
- Tornasol Films, founded in 1987, has produced films by distinguished international directors. They are now hoping for box-office success with this big-budget European co-production
Cineuropa: How did the project start out?
Mariela Besuievsky: We read the novel and we liked it a lot; we saw that it had cinematic potential. We thought it ran the risk of being too discursive, because it is a very dialogue-heavy film and the concept itself is very dense; this is a film that makes you think, but at the same time there is a lot of action going on. And we knew we could count on Álex de la Iglesia, because we believed that the story would have much greater potential thanks to the dramatic visual impact that Álex creates in his films.
The initial project put forward the names of Jeremy Irons and Diego Luna or Gael García Bernal as protagonists. Is that right?
MB: Yes, but then the UK co-producer suggested John Hurt, who read the project and was captivated by it. Álex met John and said to him "I’m the wrong director for this film" and immediately they hit it off. We were having difficulties finding someone suitable for the role of the young student. We had thought about hiring a Spanish actor to play him, until we discussed different possibilities and considered other well-known foreign actors. Moreover, in a film with such a lot of dialogue, it was going to be a problem if the actor didn’t speak English. We began to consider hiring a US actor. And so we came up with Elijah Wood.
Did the fact that you had such an impressive cast help you to find European partners?
MB: The truth is we had already found our partners before we put the cast together. The partners were very impressed with the script and the fact that Álex was directing the film. The French co-producer had distributed Ferpect Crime in France, where it enjoyed great success. They were very eager to get involved in the project. The UK producer, Kevin Loader, is young and typically British; he knows how to approach this type of project. The hardest part was finding a good international sales agent, but then Capitol Films came on board. The film has sold very well internationally and is set for release in the coming months in the UK, Italy and France.
Tornasol Films have always backed auteurs and literary adaptations. Does this project mark a turning point in terms of your future production plans?
Gerardo Herrero: We see our work more in terms of a grand plan: to make a minimum of four films per year, until 2011. This doesn’t usually happen in European cinema, where you make the film once you’ve managed to secure funding for it, at least 80% of the funding. In the US, they produce films and afterwards they sell them, or they sell them while they’re producing them. This is the approach we aim to adopt as it will also enable us to co-produce more ambitious films and get involved in bigger-budget projects, which is what cinema audiences and television viewers are asking for. Our aim is not to lose the capacity to produce auteur films, as we have done up to now, and we’d like to continue producing films by Aristaráin, Campanella, Piñeyro and Tabío… films that have a chance at the box office and also sell very well internationally.