London-based sales and production company Taskovski Films has acquired world sales rights to Barbara Paz’s debut documentary, “Babenco — Tell Me When I Die,” which bows in Venice Classics on Sept. 2.
Brazilian helmer Héctor Babenco was a commanding presence on the international film scene, directing pics of the caliber of “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” which was Oscar nominated for best picture, director, adapted screenplay and actor, with William Hurt winning in his category. Other notable films by Babenco include “Ironweed” and “Pixote.”
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Paz’s film represents a passing of the baton between a mentor and his student, who were also lovers. It is in a way Babenco’s last work. A film that functions as a loving portrait of the man and the filmmaker, but also as a love letter to the filmmaking process itself.
It is a deeply stylized, black-and-white documentary with intricate editing that shuttles between Babenco’s films and his recollections of past events. It incorporates such scenes as Willem Defoe playing a cancer-ridden Babenco alter-ego in “My Hindu Friend” with composed and deeply cinematic imagery, and also “amateur” camerawork as the young filmmaker learns her craft.
Produced by HB Filmes, Babenco’s production label, “Babenco – Tell Me When I Die” is co-produced by Fabiano Gullane, who produced Babenco’s “Carandiru” and other strong titles such as Fernando Coimbra’s “A Wolf at the Door,” as well as Lusco Fusco, Ava Filmes, Globo Filmes, GloboNews and Canal Brasil.
“‘Babenco – Tell Me When I Die’ is a beautiful dance of death and life. We are very happy to have had the opportunity to discover Barbara Paz, a new, talented and strong female director, and to start the partnership with Brazilian production companies HBFilmes and the very well known and acclaimed Gullane,” Irena Taskovski commented on the acquisition.
Gullane, on behalf of the producers, praised Taskovski for its “special taste and great nose for discovering new talents around the world, and the impressive job it has been doing, particularly with creative documentaries.”