Two Lucky Monkey films find helmers

Indie upstart recruits Andy Fleming, Bruce Beresford

NEW YORK -- Andy Fleming will helm adoption comedy "The Land of Enchantment" and Bruce Beresford will direct South African post-apartheid drama "The House Gun" for Lucky Monkey Pictures, an emerging indie banner that's ramping up its slate.

"Enchantment," set and shot in Santa Fe -- the title refers to New Mexico's slogan -- revolves around a boy adopted by an elderly gay couple who live a high-flying lifestyle and the comedic conflict that ensues. Fleming most recently directed Sundance hit "Hamlet 2" and Warner Bros.' big-screen take on Nancy Drew.

"Gun" is based on Nadine Gordimer's 1998 novel about a privileged white family forced to confront its beliefs when the son is arrested for a grisly murder. Beresford is best known for helming best-picture Oscar winner "Driving Miss Daisy."

The company also will produce a thriller, "The Trespassers," with Steven Soderbergh collaborator Laura Bickford.

Film veterans Lauren Versel and Maria Teresa Arida run Lucky Monkey, which aims to make several pictures a year through independent financing.

"Instead of investing in one independent movie, we decided to invest in a package," Arida said.

The company, with offices in New York, Buenos Aires and London, will emphasize international themes, its principals said. Several of its pictures in the works are remakes, including "Enchantment," based on a Chilean picture, and "Trespassers," based on a Brazilian film.

"It's interesting to see something that's worked in another language and another market," Versel said. "It's a little easier to get people to finance something that they already see can exist as a movie."

The company has a relationship with Argentinean production banner Travesia Producciones.

Lucky Monkey also is developing the supernatural dramedy "Black Wedding," with Alan Taylor, helmer of the 1996 cult favorite "Palookaville," attached to direct.

The company also is producing the female-driven comedy "Dead Broke," to be written by Beth Cochran and based on an idea by Versel and Arleen Sorkin. The film, which revolves around a down-on-her-luck soap opera star forced to give up her posh lifestyle and move in with her maid, is based on Sorkin's experience as a daytime actress.

Lucky Monkey will debut the prison dramedy "City Island," starring Alan Arkin and Andy Garcia, next week at the Tribeca Film Festival. Raymond De Felitta directed the picture and is on board to helm the company's title "The Wedding Director," a Hollywood sendup about a once-promising film director who must resort to shooting wedding videos.

Lucky Monkey plans to go the festival route with many of its films but also hopes to attract studios at the development or production stage.

"A couple of them will get distribution early," Versel said. "My heart can only take so much."
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