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Nearly a quarter of a century in the making, the film that premiered at Cannes and screened out of competition Wednesday at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival in the Czech Republic, has been dogged with challenges worthy of Cervante’s noble hero.
After false starts and many rewrites, ex-Monty Python member Gilliam finally completed the film only for a legal dispute with a now former Portuguese producer Paulo Branco to threaten to derail it.
Branco’s threats were sufficient for Amazon to pull out of a deal that would have ensured a 90-day cinematic release in the U.S. before it was available for streaming. Even Cannes chief Jerome Paillard was rumored to have had the jitters before its festival screening in May.
But that decision, Karlovy Vary’s screening and an upcoming competition screening at the Munich Film Festival appear to have strengthened the French distributors Kinology’s hand, despite a Paris court ruling last month granting the film’s rights to Branco.
“It is about to be released broadly in Holland and Belgium,” Gilliam told The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday. “I think Cannes changed things. Paulo just went too far — ‘I will tell the festival not to show it’ … It seems things are floating along nicely, although he did scare a lot of people away at one point.”
Addressing the Paris court ruling, Gilliam, fit and healthy after suffering a minor stroke in May, said: “The Paris court did not exactly rule in [Branco’s] favor. It just did not change the very early ruling about a technicality. The press is saying that I have lost my rights — which is not true as I am the director and it is the producers that own the rights; for example Jeremy Thomas owns the rights to the script.”
Gilliam admitted that the legal problems amounted to an ongoing frustration, but added that in making a film about Don Quixote, one could expect to encounter “windmills not just of your mind.”
Gilliam also weighed in on a controversy over a BBC diversity debate earlier this month in which the BBC controller of comedy commission, Shane Allen, said that if Monty Python were reassembled now “it’s not going to be six Oxbridge white blokes. It’s going to be a diverse range of people who reflect the modern world.”
Gilliam told a Karlovy Vary press conference: “You know I no longer want to be a white male and be blamed for everything; I tell the world I am a BLGT, black lesbian in transition and my name is Loretta. Comedy is not assembled — a boy, a girl, white, black, a dog … I want to be trans-species. Transgender is not enough.”
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