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Bovaira takes wraps off 'Agora'

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MADRID -- Fernando Bovaira's new Madrid-based production house Mod Producciones unveiled the name of its first production Thursday, announcing Alejandro Amenabar's upcoming Ancient Egypt epic will be titled "Agora."

"With his fifth film, Alejandro is once again tackling a new genre. This time his contrast is spectacular, epic in scale, but thematically he stays true to his usual concerns," Bovaira said.

Starring Rachel Weisz and Max Minghella, Amenabar's English-language follow-up to "The Others" is from a screenplay by Amenabar and his regular writing partner Mateo Gil.

Set in Roman Egypt in the fourth century, "Agora" tells the story of the legendary astronomer Hypatia (Weisz), trapped in the legendary Library of Alexandria, and her fight to save the old world's wisdom from the religious riots sweeping the streets of Alexandria. Her slave Davus (Minghella) wrestles with his yearning for freedom and his professed love for his mistress.

"No matter how many centuries have passed since the destruction of the library of Alexandria, the story 'Agora' tells is totally relevant today," Bovaira said.

Telecinco Cinema, co-producer of Guillermo del Toro's "Pan's Labyrinth" and Steven Soderbergh's "The Argentine" and "Guerrilla," is majority producer, with Amenabar's own Himenoptero shingle also producing. Film and TV titan Sogecable, which co-produced the Nicole Kidman-starrer "The Others," is contributing financially.

Shooting begins Monday in Malta and will run for 15 weeks.

"Our entire team is devoted to bringing ancient Alexandria back to life by using the hyperrealist approach," Amenabar said. "We want the audience to see, feel and smell a remote civilization as if it were as real as the present day."

The international cast also includes Oscar Isaac, Ashraf Barhom, Michael Lonsdale, Rupert Evans and Homayoun Ershadi.

"Amenabar has written an epic, passionate tale about one woman's relentless pursuit of truth," Weisz said. "It gets to the heart of the ugliness and the beauty of what it is to be human."