INTERVIEW WITH IGNACIO NUNEZ
At the 64th Cannes, one of the most talked about films on the market was the legendary film director Roland Joffe's latest film, THERE BE DRAGONS (2011). I sat with producer Ignacio Nunez at the Hotel Martinez for our one-on-one interview about this highly anticipated multi-cultural epic film.
ME: Can you tell us about the film and how difficult this three-year highly ambitious indie film project was to get off the ground?
NUNEZ: Roland Joffe wrote and directed the film. The budget was originally $40 million and then we cut budget up and ended up $36m. It ended up being a $36 million independent film, not financed by studios of course. So it was indeed big. I met Roland in Spain in 2008. Roland was looking for financing for his next film about Jose-Maria who was the founder of Opus Dei. Roland tells the story about the controversial Catholic priest which was an interesting subject as Roland himself is agnostic, so the film came from interesting POV. I knew it would be good project so I wanted to help find money. It was not easy. ln 2009, it was after the banking crises and Leman Brothers Bank had collapsed so it was hard. From 2008 until Feb 2011 we had to raise the money and it took three years. From March 2009 in Argentina we started pre-production which took nine months. Roland took great talented actors from around the world, award-winning costume designers, musicians, and talent. We had five Oscar winning talents on the team and it was a very international project. All the cast is from different countries from all over the world (America, Scotland, Spain, Argentina, Brazil, etc.).
ME: How has the Cannes market for this big indie film been so far?
NUNEZ: Good. The film has been released in Spain and US through Samuel Goldwyn. Next week it will have its release in Portugal and Turkey. We started in Berlin and now we are beginning to sell in all territories. Bleiberg Entertainment owns world sales rights while Spain and US have direct distribution deals, as the film is Spanish and US co-production.
ME: Can you speak a bit on what the film is about?
NUNEZ: The film is about forgiveness and reconciliation. For Joffe, the film had a lot of elements connecting him to THE MISSION (1986)...
ME: Sorry, have to interrupt... THE MISSION being one of the best films ever made, by the way... :-)
NUNEZ: Yes! THE MISSION was based in 18th century Argentina and Brazil with Father Gabriel and the Catholics versus the Jesuits. Again, Joffe, while agnostic, loves the subject of religion. THERE BE DRAGONS has the same elements as THE MISSION, set during the Spanish Civil War about two friends, Jose-Maria and Manolo. The film is about two friends, while they are young with opposite ways. One of the friends, Manolo, was created by Roland's imagination and talent. Intrigued by religion and as an atheist, Manolo has lost curiosity for mankind and that's why he questions everything. Like in THE KILLING FIELDS (1984), with background of horror of war, THERE BE DRAGONS is about friendship and these men.
ME: Can you say something about the choice of the title?
NUNEZ: Like our dark fears and shadows, we face the dragons in our life, the demons, hence the title, THERE BE DRAGONS.
ME: How hard was it to find such an international cast for the film?
NUNEZ: We had problems from the beginning getting actors because of the controversial nature of the Opus Dei subject. None of the actors wanted to be connected to a film that spoke well about the Opus Dei priest because of the controversy surrounding him. Priests in general have bad rap from that time because they abused children and took money from the people so many actors didn't want to be connected to a story about a ‘good' Catholic priest who started Opus Dei. But we fought for the film and in the end we are very happy about actors in the project. Wes Bentley was great, like in AMERICAN BEAUTY, and better. Rodrigo Santoro plays a realist revolutionary fighting against the fascists and Dougray Scott as ‘Robert', came to the cast from the beginning. Those were first actors to come to Argentina.
ME: Where was the majority of the film shot?
NUNEZ: 90% of the film was shot between Lujan, Buenos Aires, South Argentina and the rest in Spain. It was a long production shot in six months in Argentina from March to December. It was first cut in March 2010 and screen tested with audiences.
ME: How has the reaction to the film been as yet?
NUNEZ: We started selling film in Berlin at Berlinale 2011. Our world premier was in Spain on March 25. So far we've had mixed reactions. The Box Office so far has been $2.8m Worldwide and US $1m. But we've had thousands of emails from viewers saying they love it and how it changed their lives and their will to live, to improve their lives and their characters.
ME: Any ideas what your next project will be after this one?
NUNEZ: Well, I have first my investors to pay back first on this one before next project. LOL.
ME: Well, it might be a slow beginning but audiences will catch on. Roland Joffe is a legend and his work will speak for itself.
For more on THERE BE DRAGONS, visit the site here: http://dragonsresources.com/
Interview by Vanessa McMahon on May 17, 2011.
SUMMARY: "A young journalist long ago rejected by his now aged and dying father finds himself investigating one of his father's former friends, a candidate for canonization. Uncovering the two men's complicated relationship from childhood through the horrors of the Spanish Civil War unveils a compelling drama filled with passion, betrayal, love and religion. An action packed story set during a murderous time in history that ultimately serves the present by revealing the importance and timeless power of forgiveness."
Summary written by Anonymous
Producer Ignacio Nunez : interview at Hotel Martinez
actor Rodrigo Santoro and producer Oliver Kwan: Brazil party, Cannes 2011