French Distributor of Terry Gilliam's 'Don Quixote' Dismisses Legal Claims

Courtesy of Tornasol Films
'The Man Who Killed Don Quixote' wrap photo

Paulo Branco "was not, is not and never will be the producer of Terry Gilliam’s 'Don Quixote'," says Philippe Aigle of Ocean Films ahead of a decision by Cannes over whether to screen the film.

The French distributor of Terry Gilliam's embattled The Man Who Shot Don Quixote has hit back at a lawsuit aimed at stopping the film from having its world premiere in Cannes.

The strongly worded four-page statement from Philippe Aigle of Ocean Films on behalf of the film’s current producers comes just a week after Portuguese producer Paulo Branco of Alfama Films revealed that he had begun legal action to prevent the festival from screening the film. That decision will be handed down Monday, May 7.

In his suit, Branco claims that the film cannot be shown without the agreement of its producer.

However in today’s statement, Aigle claims that Branco "was not, is not and never will be the producer of Terry Gilliam’s Don Quixote," adding that the producer had never held the copyright to the film's script because he couldn't come up with the €250,000 ($300,000) asking price.

According to Aigle, Branco — who first announced that the long-awaited film would be going into production in Cannes in 2016 — had halved the agreed-upon budget "in complete disregard for the director’s vision."

After the budget disagreement, Aigle said Branco wrote to Gilliam in an email, saying, "Either you make this film my way, or you irremediably compromise the feasibility of the project and your film will never see the light of day."

After an email exchange, Branco allegedly told Gilliam, "Our collaboration is impossible. Good luck with another producer."

Aigle says that this effectively terminated the contract. No preparation for the film had begun, and Gilliam looked for other producers, bringing on board Amy Gilliam, Mariela Besuievsky, with the support of Belgium's Entre Chien et Loup and France’s Kinology.

"They are the producers of the film: they have raised €16 million in financing and contracted the distributors. They are the owners of the movie,” says Aigle, who described the behavior and public statements of Branco and his son, Raoul Branco, as "grotesque."

Aigle also said that a French court on May 19, 2017 had "dismissed" Branco’s claim and allowed shooting to go ahead, with the judge dismissing Alfama’s claim that it was the copyright holder. Branco holds that while the court let filming go ahead, it found in favor of him on breach of contract.

That case has gone to an appeals court, with the final decision set to be handed down June 15.

Aigle also asserted that there were two legal judgments supporting Gilliam in the U.K., but didn't give specific information about these cases, and claimed that Branco's latest legal move came only after producers of The Man Who Killed Don Quixote refused a demand on March 15, 2018 that they pay him €3.5 million (€2 million in cash immediately and €1.5 million on box office receipts).

Alfama told THR they had "no comment' on Aigle's statement.