Henning Carlsen presents Marquez film

CANNES. Henning Carlsen's international coproduction of Gabriel García Márquez' novel "Memories of my Melancholy Whores" premiered at the market in Cannes.

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"Memories of my Melancholy Whores" is the story of 90-year-old El Sabio who falls in love with a yong woman. Photo: Miguel Bracho

While a series of successful Scandinavian crime writers with film versions of their bestsellers are shuffling into position at Cannes, Danish film is also represented with a large-scale production of the Gabriel García Márquez' novel "Memories of my Melancholy Whores". Henning Carlsen directed the Spanish-language, Mexican-Danish coproduction, filmed in Mexico with a budget of 3.8 million euros.

Similarities with "Hunger"

The idea for the film came about when Henning Carlsen, shortly after the publication in Denmark of the much-praised Marquez novel, felt inspired by the story of a man who finds love late in life. He did not at first have a film in mind but the narrative and its similarities with Knut Hamsun's "Hunger" which Henning Carlsen, to great acclaim, turned into a film in 1966, intrigued and encouraged him to tackle the story.

As he explains in the director's statement that accompanies the film at Cannes, both novels have as their jumping-off point intellectual, slightly mad writers who fall in love with women outside their normal spheres. An idea of how to change the structure of the novel persuaded him to transpose the sensual tale to film with the help of renowned French scriptwriter Jean-Claude Carrière, who in 1986 wrote the script for Henning Carlsen's "Oviri" about the painter Paul Gauguin, and who, during his long career, among other screenplays co-wrote "Valmont" with Milos Forman and "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" with Philip Kaufman.

Anti-prostitution protests

"Memories of my Melancholy Whores" had its first international screening at the Cannes market. The Danish producer Nina Crone was happy, finally, to be able to present the film to an international audience after a long and laborious genesis. Along the way filming was delayed by, among other things, an anti-prostitution group whose criticism of the production, three weeks prior to the planned start of principal photography, caused the original financing to fall apart.

According to Nina Crone, filming, once under way, went well, and she was generally impressed by the level of expertise of the Mexican crew, all of whom had a great deal of prior experience working with both local and American productions.

Besides the director Henning Carlsen, other Danes involved with the production include film editor Anders Refn, and sound editor Eddie Simonsen. The cast includes Emilio Echevarría, known for his role as El Chivo in Alejandro González Iñárritus breakthrough film "Amores Perros", as the 90-year-old El Sabio, Geraldine Chaplin, Ángela Molina, and features the debut of Paola Medina as the young girl.

TrustNordisk is offering the film at Cannes. Release date in Denmark is expected in fall.

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