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‘The Man Who Killed Don Quixote’: Terry Gilliam Loses Court Battle, No Longer Owns Rights to Long-Delayed Film

The making of this film has been nothing if not quixotic.

Gilliam and Jonathan Pryce

Gilliam and Jonathan Pryce during the shooting of “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote”

Screen Media

After a decades-long production process that saw several failed iterations and even a documentary about its making, Terry Gilliam’s “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” appeared to have a happy ending when it finally premiered at Cannes last month. Mixed reviews followed, and now Gilliam has lost a protracted court battle over the rights to his long-delayed passion project: The Paris Court of Appeal has ruled in favor of former producer Paulo Branco, who sued Gilliam over rights to the project.

The filmmaker has also been ordered to pay Branco’s Alfama Films €10,000 ($11,600) in fees. He previously won a case that allowed him to screen “Don Quixote” at Cannes, though the victory was short-lived. ”The ruling means that the rights to the film belong to Alfama. Any exploitation of the film up until now has been completely illegal and without the authorisation of Alfama,” Branco told Screen Daily.

“We will be seeking damages with interest from all the people involved in this illegal production and above all, all those who were complicit in its illegal exploitation. We’re holding everyone responsible.”

By “everyone,” he means not only Gilliam but also “the film’s producers, Kinology, all the others who supported the film, including those who distributed the film in France and the Cannes Film Festival, everyone.”

“The film belongs in its entirety to Alfama,” Branco added. “The film was made illegally. It’s the first time, I’ve ever seen so many people embark on a mission to produce and exploit a film, without holding the rights. It’s a unique case.”

IndieWire has reached out to Gilliam’s representatives for comment.

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