Against all odds, “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” was finally screened to the public last Friday at the Cannes Film Festival. Regardless of the content of the film, the fact that Terry Gilliam was able to produce a finished product is a miracle unto itself. But just because Gilliam was able to share his work doesn’t mean the legal battle and bad blood between him and ex-producer Paulo Branco is water under the bridge. Far from it.
In a recent interview with Cineuropa, the filmmaker explains exactly what the issue is with Branco and why he feels completely justified in showing the film, despite Branco claiming that Gilliam doesn’t hold the rights:
“We needed X amount of money to make the film, and he failed to raise even half the amount. How about that? Even worse, in my contract, he had to show me a budget, he had to show me all the financial dealings, and he refused to show me anything. In the end, he said I had to sign a new statement – either I signed it or he would close the film down – and it said he would make all the decisions and I would have to follow every decision he made. He gave me 24 hours to sign, and I didn’t, so he pulled the plug. Boom. Very simple.”
That’s the most succinct description of the legal issues we’ve read since the whole back and forth began months ago. It’s clear from the tone of the statement, Gilliam doesn’t care for Branco and is downright sick of dealing with the guy and these questions.
Of course, through this whole ordeal, Branco continues to claim he owns the rights to the film. The director’s response is pretty cut and dry, saying, “He can say anything he wants. He can say he’s six feet three inches tall; he can say he’s blond and beautiful; he can say he’s 23 years old. He can lie through his teeth, and he’s very good at that.”
For those that only care about the film, and don’t bother with legal drama, there’s still some uncertainty on when the US will get a proper release of ‘Don Quixote,’ since Amazon recently pulled out of their deal. However, with the non-stop press surrounding the film, one would imagine that Gilliam has plenty of buyers lined up…once he gets this Branco mess behind him.