Paris (AFP) – One of the most cursed films in the history of cinema hit a new snag Wednesday which may sink its chances of being shown at the Cannes film festival next month.
Terry Gilliam has spent nearly two decades trying to make “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote”, with his herculean efforts to adapt Cervantes’ “unfilmable” novel for the big screen the subject of an acclaimed documentary, “Lost in La Mancha”.
But just as the Monty Python veteran has finished the film, its former producer Paul Branco has obtained a French court order stopping it from being shown in cinemas.
Branco claims that the film with “Star Wars” actor Adam Driver and Jonathan Pryce is “illegal” and that his Alfama Films rather than Gilliam own the rights to it.
Appeal court judges in Paris said Wednesday they would rule on the dispute between the 77-year-old British director and the man who has previously referred to as “the Portuguese chap” in June.
A French court had earlier heard that there was a falling out between Gilliam and Branco when the Portuguese producer failed to raise the budget for a 2016 attempt to make the film.
Branco claims the rights to the film had been ceded to him.
When Gilliam found other backers to finally make the film last year Branco went to the French courts to stop him.
Judges ruled last May that the new production could not but halted but that Branco held the rights to the movie.
– ‘Demands are laughable’ –
Gilliam, who did an improvised tap dance outside the courtroom, told AFP that Branco had “nothing to do with the (final) film”.
“There is no negotiating with him — his demands are laughable, absurd. He is trying to make as much money as he possibly can from a film he did not produce,” he added.
“In the meantime the film is being delayed. I love this film, it is really amazing, the actors are phenomenal… They all hate him to the point they are going to make the film successful.”
And Gilliam said the film — which he described as “hugely beautiful” — may yet be shown at the world’s biggest film festival in May.
“Cannes is still deliberating. When they saw the film they said it was wonderful. I don’t know what the rules of Cannes are. If you show the film for free in the festival, there is no way it can be stopped.”
But Branco told AFP that the $21 million (17 million-euro) film had been shot “illegally, without the rights” and that he was confident the judges would side with him.
He said it was “absolutely false” that that he had demanded 3.5 million euros from Gilliam and the new producers. “We have always wanted mediation, for this to be decided round a table, but the other side would not accept that.”
The producer said he hoped that “the film will be released one day — films are made to be seen — but legally.”