Cannes: Terry Gilliam’s 'Don Quixote' Beats Legal Bid Over Closing-Night Screening

Courtesy of Cannes Film Festival
'The Man Who Killed Don Quixote'

The long-awaited film’s festival curtain-closing world premiere should now go ahead as planned.

The final hurdle, seemingly in place to stop Terry Gilliam’s long-awaited, decades-in-the-making passion project The Man Who Killed Don Quixote from seeing the light of day, has been cleared.

A legal bid by producer Paulo Branco to stop the film's screening in Cannes was dismissed on Wednesday by a court in France, The Hollywood Reporter has learned, with the organizers now presumably free to let the film have its planned world premiere on the festival's closing night. This came just hours after THR confirmed that Amazon had pulled out of the embattled project.

Shortly after the decision was handed down, festival director Thierry Fremaux announced that Gilliam's embattled film will close the fest as planned. It also means the film will be able to open May 19 in France.

"The Festival de Cannes, which throughout the case has repeatedly expressed its loyalty and support for the creators, is pleased to see that justice will allow the presentation of this work, whose director surely deserves to see it finally presented to the public," the festival said a day later on Thursday. "We are very pleased that this unique – and in some ways agonizing – work in the career of the great director Terry Gilliam will be unveiled for the first time to journalists, festival-goers and professionals from around the world."

Branco and his Alfama Films had last month filed legal action against the festival trying to stop the premiere, part of an ongoing claim he had against the film, to which he claims he has rights. In a press conference given before the decision, Branco said he would respect the court's ruling, but lashed out at the festival for choosing the film and thinking it was "above the law," describing Thierry Fremaux as a "puppet."

French distributor Philippe Aigle of Ocean Films called the decision "a big victory for the festival," saying Branco's move to stop the screening was a move to interfere with Cannes and less to do with the producers, as a decision on his copyright claims is due June 15.

"This is what we fought for," Aigle told THR. "It's a big victory for Terry. There is a lot at stake for business and money, but as far as I'm concerned I'm happy for Terry to have his moment after twenty years."

In a sharply worded response to the actions of Branco and his lawyers last month, Cannes organizers said they would respect decision of the French judge at a hearing that began Monday.

It was actually in Cannes in 2016 where Gilliam and Branco announced that The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, a film the Monty Python legend has famously been trying to make since 1989, with several failed attempts, would be going into production. Adam Driver, Jonathan Pryce and Olga Kurylenko were revealed as having been cast, and to many it looked like, at long last, Gilliam’s curse had been lifted.

But the director and producer soon fell out, with Gilliam claiming that promised production funds never arrived and Branco having left the project before production began. Last year in Cannes, Branco said that Gilliam had been making the film — which wrapped production in June — illegally, with Alfama Films owning its exclusive rights.

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