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Walter Salles Working On Two New Screenplays, ‘Terra’ With Gael García Bernal & One With His ‘Central Station’ Star

Walter Salles Working On Two New Screenplays, 'Terra' With Gael García Bernal & One With His 'Central Station' Star

Brazilian director Walter Salles‘ path to adapting Jack Kerouac‘s “On The Road” has been a long and winding one that’s taken about seven years to come to fruition. And while reviews out of Cannes about his new picture starring Garett Hedlund, Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart and more have been decidely mixed (read our review here), the film will finally arrive on U.S. shores in the late fall.

But while “On the Road” was a prolonged pregnancy, the filmmaker, perhaps best known for “The Motorcycle Diaries,” has kept fairly busy with other plans. After 2005’s “Dark Water” came the little-seen Brazilian favela-slums-set “Linha de Passe” that never found U.S. distribution and all the while, Salles had been slowly chipping away on a documentary about “On the Road,” which he has described as his own personal research towards making the film.

And there’s more on the horizon. Playlist contributor Aaron Hillis talked to Salles during a press day in Cannes and the filmmaker revealed he is working on two different screenplays at the moment. 

The first is called “Terra” and will star Gael García Bernal and Ricardo Darin (“The Secret In Their Eyes“). “I love the concept of family in cinema,” Salles said, discussing the project and its overall milieu. “I’m always interested in getting back to Brazil. Everytime I trespass into different frontiers, I try and keep my passport very close to my body so I can come back quickly.”

Set in Chile and Argentina, Salles said “Terra” is still marinating. “For some reason, the projects I do take a long time to mature. So we’ve been developing it with Gael for two years,” he said. While described early on as being about two half brothers (Bernal and Darin) who decide to travel to Patagonia (a region shared by the two aforementioned South American countries) after discovering during their father’s funeral he had a mistress there, Salles said he was reluctant to talk about the plotline too much for a fear that it could be set in stone with little wiggle room. And it sounds like the filmmaker wants to keep exploring its themes.

“We’re still polishing the screenplay,” he said. “And if you define something, it becomes that thing, you know? It’s then hard to drift away from it from it and find things you haven’t named yet. It’s like a title for a film, it [ends up] tracing a vector of development which helps, but, it’s difficult because when you talk about it, you somehow have to frame it within a territory that you may want to bifurcate from.”

While he wouldn’t delve deeper, Salles did allow that Argentinan filmmaker Pablo Trapero‘s trio of “Carancho” screenwriters — Alejandro Fadel, Martín Mauregui and Santiago Mitre — are currently at work on the project with him.

The second project Salles has in gestation is one he says he is developing for Fernanda Montenegro, the star of his 1998 feature “Central Station” (which earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Feature Film), an actress he calls, “extraordinary.” While there are no additional details, one would assume “Terra” will come first, as last we heard the picture was due to shoot later this year. That is unless Salles thinks the project still needs more time to pickle.

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