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Terry Gilliam Suffers Stroke While Awaiting ‘The Man Who Killed Don Quixote’ Cannes Verdict

The British writer-director intends to close the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival with his film, hoping that critics will declare it a time-traveling masterpiece.

Terry GilliamLondon Evening Standard British Film Awards, UK - 08 Dec 2016

Terry Gilliam

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French newspaper Nice-Matin reports that a minor stroke prevented director and Oscar-nominated screenwriter Terry Gilliam from attending May 7 court arguments on whether his “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” will be permitted to close the Cannes Film Festival. A source in Cannes confirmed to IndieWire that Gilliam had “a kind of stroke” and “was in the hospital,” but the 77-year-old filmmaker is “at home now.”

A Paris District Court is expected to announce Wednesday if Gilliam’s decades-delayed undertaking can screen on the Croisette May 19, the date it is to be released in French theaters. Paulo Branco (“Cosmopolis”), a onetime producer on the project, sought an injunction to stop both, claiming he has held the rights to the film since August 2016.

“The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” was added to the Cannes 2018 program on April 19, a week after the rest of the lineup was announced. Festival president Pierre Lescure and director Thierry Frémaux said they took “careful consideration” to arrive at their decision, as Branco and his production company, Alfama Films, had launched successful legal challenges against Gilliam in England and France (where, in May 2017, Branco’s request to have filming brought to a halt was nonetheless denied). Gilliam filed an appeal to the French ruling on April 4.

Production began nearly 20 years ago, with one-time star Johnny Depp. Until 2017, the production was repeatedly thwarted by flooded sets, insurance woes, and the deaths of two actors once attached to the Quixote role, Jean Rochefort and John Hurt. Eventually, the film was completed with Jonathan Pryce and Adam Driver in the leads.

IndieWire has reached out to the Cannes Film Festival for comment.

Additional reporting by Eric Kohn.

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