Cannes to Consider Legal Action From 'Don Quixote' Producer

LE PARISIEN/FREDERIC DUGIT/Newscom

The embattled Terry Gilliam film was set to make its world premiere as the festival's closer May 19.

The long-awaited world premiere of Terry Gilliam's embattled The Man Who Killed Don Quixote is still not set in stone.

The Cannes Film Festival, which only recently added the movie to its lineup as the curtain closer on May 19, has now said it will consider a legal action by its producer, Paulo Branco of Alfama Films, aimed at preventing the screening. 

"As Mr. Branco has so far been very prominent in the media and legal spheres it seems necessary to state the reasons which led us to choose the film and risk action by the producer, whose lawyer, Juan Branco, likes to point out that his image and his credibility are essentially built on his numerous appearances at Cannes and by his closeness to the great auteurs honored by the Festival," the festival said in a sharply-worded statement by president Pierre Lescure and general delegate Thierry Fremaux. "The latter is true, which adds to our bemusement."

The festival acknowledged that Branco had informed it of his legal actions against Gilliam just as The Man Who Killed Don Quixote was being presented to the Cannes selection committee over the winter. 

"Such legal disputes are not unusual," the festival responded in a statement. "The festival is regularly informed of them, but it is not in its remit to take a position on these sorts of matters. Therefore, after careful consideration and because it seemed possible the film would be released at the same time, we decided to feature this work in the Official Selection."

But the festival — which referenced previous actions taken by Branco against its film selections and his accusations that it chose to "force matters" by choosing Gilliam's film — said the producer had allowed his lawyer to use "intimidation and defamatory statements, as derisory as they are ridiculous."

However, the festival said that it would "respect the legal decision, whatever it may be," but that it stands "squarely on the side of filmmakers and in particular on the side of Terry Gilliam. We know how important this project, which has gone through so many trials and tribulations, is to him. The trouble were caused on this last occasion by the actions of a producer who has shown his true colors once and for all during this episode and who has threatened us, via his lawyer, with a 'humiliating defeat.'"

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