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Top Latin American Arthouse Title ‘Puan,’ from María Alche, Benjamin Naishtat, Boarded by Luxbox (EXCLUSIVE)

Paris-based Luxbox has snapped up sales rights on “Puan,” the awaited new film from María Alche and Benjamín Naishtat, two of Argentina’s fastest-rising directors.

The new title co-stars Leonardo Sbaraglia (“Pain and Glory,” “Wild Tales”).

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“Puan” catches Alché after she won San Sebastian’s prestigious Horizontes Award in 2018 for her Visit Films-sold feature debut, “A Family Submerged,” before teaming on “Puan” with Naishat who, the same year at San Sebastian, won director, actor (Dario Grandinetti) and cinematography (Pedro Sotero) in main competition for “Rojo,” sparking a rave Variety review.

“Rojo” denounced the tacit collusion of many Argentineans in the violence of Argentina’s extreme right just months before the coup d’etat which brought the Junta to power.

Also written by Alché and Naishtat, “Puan” looks like another state of the nation take, delivered, however, in lighter comic terms, set at the “weirdly amazing” – Naishtat’s words – Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Buenos Aires, known as “Puan.”

Here, philosophy lecturer Marcelo (Marcelo Subiotto, “Incident Light”) sees his life suddenly turned upside down by the death of his mentor, Professor Caselli. He expects to inherit Caselli’s chair, until challenged by a charismatic, seductive contender, Rafael Sujarchuk, just back from a high post at a university in Europe.

As the two battle for the professorship, triggering what is described as a “hilarious philosophical duel,” Marcelo’s life – and Argentina – spiral into chaos.

“Puan” is produced by Barbara Sarasola-Day and Federico Eibuszyc’s Pucará Cine, which also backed Naishtat’s “The Movement” and “Rojo,” and Barbara Francisco’s 13-year old firm Pasto Cine, behind “A Family Submerged” and the“The Student,” the debut of “Argentina, 1985” director Santiago Mitre.

Co-producers take in Infinity Hill, which backed “Argentina, 1985,” Germany’s Pandora Filmproduktion (“The Moneychanger”), a frequent co-producer with Latin America, France’s Atelier de Production (“Playlist”), Italy’s Kino Produzioni (“Delta”) and Brazil’s Bubbles Project (“Loveling”). Pandora and Bubbles also co-produced “A Family Submerged.”

“Argentine society is built on many contradictions: the compulsive, aspirational desire to think of this country within a European imaginarium; the everlasting denial of any cultural roots beyond the city of Buenos Aires,” Naishtat has commented.

“These are fundamental to the disorienting Argentine identity, and its academia is a central part of this conundrum. Within a human and humorous story we hope to depict a society that may finally be starting to acknowledge its own place in the world,” he added.

“Through a duel between two philosophy professors at ‘Puán,’ a unique faculty, the film tells us how its protagonist faces a new reality when everything he knew begins to crumble. Subiotto and Sbaraglia lead a brilliant cast under the direction of Alché and Naishtat who propose a singular film, full of emotion and laughs,” wrote Francisco Mendivil, Sarasola-Day and Eibuszyc.

“We are thrilled to have Luxbox on board as part of our team and we have full confidence in Fiorella [Moretti]’s ability to handle the international sales of the film.”

“We are very excited to join the team of Puán! An original Latin-American film that blends philosophy with irony. A political tale with a very unique tone,”  added, Moretti, CEO at Luxbox, which also sold “Rojo.”

“Puan” marks the third recent high-profile Spanish-language pick-up by Luxbox after Estibaliz Urresola’s “20,000 Species of Bees,” which won Leading Performance at February’s Berlinale, and Elena Martin’s “Creature,” an exploration of repressed female sexuality and latest title from the New Catalan Cinema which world premieres at the Cannes Festival’s Directors’ Fortnight.

Axel Kuschevatzky, Giovanni Pompili, Tatiana Leite, Christoph Friedel, Claudia Steffen, Thomas Verhaeghe, Mathieu Verhaeghe co-produce “Puán.”

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