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Cannes Stands by Terry Gilliam’s ‘Don Quixote’ Despite Producer’s Lawsuit to Block Screening

Paulo Branco and his Alfama Films sued to block long-delayed drama from closing next month’s film festival

The Cannes Film Festival reaffirmed its plans to screen Terry Gilliam’s long-delayed “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” despite a lawsuit by producer Paulo Branco seeking to block the closing-night screening at next month’s festival.

“We strongly affirm that we stand squarely on the side of filmmakers and in particular on the side of Terry Gilliam,” festival president Pierre Lescure and general delegate Thierry Frémaux said in a statement. “The trouble were caused on this last occasion by the actions of a producer who has shown his true colours once and for all during this episode and who has threatened us, via his lawyer, with a ‘humiliating defeat.'”

Branco, a producer who was attached to “Don Quixote” but left after pre-production disputes, filed suit last Wednesday seeking an injunction to prevent Cannes from screening the film. His lawyer issued a statement claiming that Gilliam needs Branco’s permission to screen the film.

A judge is expected to rule on Branco’s suit on May 7, at the start of the festival. The film is currently scheduled to screen on the event’s closing night, May 19, timed to its release on 300 screens in France.

Festival organizers couldn’t resist taking a swipe at Branco himself. “As Mr Branco has so far been very prominent in the media and legal spheres it seems necessary to state the reasons which led us to choose the film and risk action by the producer, whose lawyer, Juan Branco, likes to point out that his image and his credibility are essentially built on his numerous appearances at Cannes and by his closeness to the great auteurs honoured by the Festival,” Lescure and Frémaux said. “The latter is true, which adds to our bemusement.”

The festival organizers also framed the issue as one of free expression. “Defeat would be to succumb to threats,” they wrote, citing the fact that “two filmmakers invited to take part in the Official Selection are under house arrest in their own countries.”

“It is more important than ever to remember that artists need us to support them, not attack them,” they wrote. “That has always been the tradition of the Festival de Cannes and so it will remain.”

A rep for Amazon Studios, which is releasing the film domestically, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.