Cannes 2012: 'Bourne's' Paul Greengrass to tackle FC Barcelona
EXCLUSIVE: Though he's famous for his handheld verite style of filmmaking, Paul Greengrass has never made a documentary. That will change -- and in very high-profile fashion -- with the "Bourne Ultimatum" director's new project: a documentary about the legendary FC Barcelona soccer club that will be unveiled at the Cannes Film Festival market Thursday, according to people familiar with the production who were not authorized to speak about it publicly.
Titled "Barca," the movie will examine the process and legacy of one of the world's most famous sports franchises, looking at a team as it prepares for the 2012-2013 campaign, in which it will seek to reclaim its title in Spain's La Liga, with a particular emphasis on its successful run over the last several years. Greengrass aims to begin shooting the movie later this year, after he wraps his newest feature.
Greengrass has been given unusual access to the team, his path smoothed by the involvement of noted Barcelona chronicler and journalist John Carlin, who will serve as executive producer.
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The film has a shiny pedigree -- it will be edited by Chris King, who also edited the acclaimed sports documentary "Senna" last year, assembling a documentary narrative from only archival material. "The Beaver" producer Anonymous Content is financing and representing domestic rights to the movie at the Cannes market, while FilmNation, a company behind Cannes '12 titles "Mud" and "Lawless," will handle international sales.
Barca's history is long and rich, with the 113-year-old team winning 21 La Liga titles and four Champion's League titles over its history. At the moment, it features many of the world's best players, including Argentine great Lionel Messi and Spanish international star David Villa. It also has of course played numerous high-profile matches with its fierce Spanish rival, Real Madrid.
The idea behind "Barca" is to show the players and the Barca game, which is known for its crisp and graceful passing schemes, as well as the business strategy behind the team in the manner of "Moneyball."
The pairing of one of the world's most acclaimed commercial directors with its most famous sports brand will likely generate huge interest throughout Europe. Interest for it in the U.S. is a more open question, though certainly the growing popularity of soccer and the blockbuster success of Greengrass' Jason Bourne films could drive interest.
The movie is expected to be finished ahead of the 2014 World Cup, when public attention will begin focusing on international soccer in Rio de Janeiro.
-- Steven Zeitchik
Photo: Director Paul Greengrass, left, and Matt Damon on the set of the movie, "The Bourne Supremacy." Credit: Jasin Boland / Universal Studios