Penelope Cruz and Antonio Banderas are Spain’s biggest Hollywood names, and Pedro Almodovar’s most frequent stars, but – extraordinary as it may seem – to date, they’ve had just two minutes on screen together, in the opening scene of 2013’s “I’m So Excited.”
In comedy “Official Competition,” a frontrunner for Venice selection next Monday, they get to share the screen for the whole of the film. If a teaser trailer, released Thursday, is anything to go by, however, for their characters at least it doesn’t look like a comfortable experience at all.
Produced by The Mediapro Studio, with RTVE, TV3 and Orange España, and brought onto the market by sales agent Protagonist Pictures at this year’s Berlin, “Official Competition” begins with a billionaire businessman deciding to make a movie that leaves his mark on history.
To do so, he hires famed filmmaker Lola Cuevas (Cruz), Hollywood hearthrob Félix Rivero (Banderas) and radical theater thespian Iván Torres (Argentina’s Oscar Martínez).
They’re a stellar team that can’t work together. Rivero and Torres may be enormously talented, but they have even bigger egos. To bang some sense of some humility into them, Lola contrives a series of increasingly imaginative challenges, two seen in the teaser (Is that rock real?). Her aim is for the two colossuses of screen and theater acting to not only face each other but also wise up to their own legacies, the synopsis suggests.
Glimpsed early afternoon on TVE in Spain, the Spanish teaser for “Official Competition” now has an international version, released in exclusivity by WM Leader.
Directed by Mariano Cohn and Gastón Duprat, popular Argentine auteurs whose credits include “The Distinguished Citizen” (which won Martínez a 2016 best actor prize at Venice), “Official Competition” is written by the directors and Andrés Duprat. It is produced by Mediapro head Jaume Roures and the executive producers are Laura Fernández Espeso, Javier Mendez, Javier Pons at The Mediapro Studio, plus Banderas, Cruz and Martínez.
Buena Vista International will handle theatrical distribution in Spain, and Star Distribution releases in Latin America. Their industry caliber confirms “Official Competition” as one of Spain’s biggest movie releases of the year.