Lucrecia Martel to Direct Antonio Di Benedetto’s 'Zama'

Almodovar’s El Deseo is attached to co-produce with Lita Stantic.

BUENOS AIRES – Argentine director Lucrecia Martel’s next project will be an adaptation of Antonio Di Benedetto’s historical novel Zama. The news was revealed by producer Lita Stantic to Italian news agency ANSA at the Venice Film Festival, where Martel is presenting her short Muta, which was commissioned by Italian fashion brand Miu-Miu.

"It’s a very ambitious project, and also a very expensive one, because it is set in an unknown Latin American country in 1790, and like all period pieces, it needs a large financial input," said Stantic. "That’s why we will co-produce the film together with El Deseo, the Almodovar brothers’ company, and a French producer will probably join us as well, but the script hasn’t been translated to French and English yet."

El Deseo has also co-produced Martel's last two features.

The shooting of Martel’s fourth feature is scheduled for July 2013, although according to Stantic, "It will all depend on whether we manage to set the project the way we want to."

Director of The Swamp, The Holy Girl and The Headless Woman, Martel is one of Argentina’s most renowned filmmakers to come out of the so-called New Argentine Cinema in the late 1990s, and recently dropped out of a much-anticipated project to adapt Argentine classic comic book El Eternauta, by Hector Oesterheld and Francisco Solano Lopez.

Written in 1956, Zama is an existential novel about Don Diego de Zama, a 17th-century official for the Spanish crown based in Asuncion del Paraguay, who awaits his transfer to the city of Buenos Aires. Argentine author and journalist Di Bendetto died in 1986 in Buenos Aires, where he had returned in 1984 after his exile in Spain. Di Benedetto was forced to leave the country in 1977 after being kidnapped and tortured by military forces in 1976.

In recent years, Argentine Di Benedetto’s works have had film adaptations by local helmers, like Juan Villegas (Los Suicidas, 2005) and Fernando Spiner, who directed Aballay (2010), Argentina’s 2012 Oscar entry.


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