Bela Tarr preps swan song

By Laszlo Kriston
    Hungarian auteur Bela Tarr is preparing a 35-day December shoot for The Turin Horse, an Hungarian-Swiss-German-French co-production in Hungary.

    The film is co-produced by Hungary's TT Filmmuhely (founded in 2003 by Tarr and long-time collaborator Gabor Teni), furnishing the majority of the budget; Ruth Waldburger of Switzerland's Vega Film Production AG (www.vegafilm.com), who puts up 15 percent of the costs; and participation from Martin Hagemann of Germany's Zero Fiction Film (www.zerofiction.eu), and Marie Pierre Macia and Juliette Lepoutre of France's Movie Partners In Motion Film (or MPM Film, www.mpmfilm.com).

    In October, another partner, the Minneapolis-based Werck Werk Works (www.wercwerkworks.com) came on board. The new production outfit, which is behind Todd Solondz's new untitled project, was founded by Elizabeth Redleaf and Christine Kunewa Walker who co-finance and executive produce Tarr's movie along with Mark S. Ryan.

    In October, the film received 240,000 euros from the Eurimages (www.coe.int/eurimages), and Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg (www.medienboard.de) contributed 100,000 euros. The final budget figure is unknown.

    Tarr has lined up his cast that includes Miroslav Krobot, Erika Bok, and Volker Spengler.

    Inspired by Nietzsche's experience in the Italian city of Turin, the films uses the story of a farmer and his horse as an existential metaphor to speak about "death, and the deep pain that comes with it, felt by all of us as an universal law."

    Tarr, known for his dark, slow films and a style marked by long takes, first announced that he is giving up film directing at the September 8 Paris premiere of The Man from London. The 53-year-old attained a cult following around the world, and counts Arturo Ripstein, Gus Van Sant and Jim Jarmusch among his fans. He will focus on photography, writing and painting in the future.

    Tentative plans are made for the film's 2009 April completion and a Cannes debut in May. No sales agent is attached to the project yet, but negotiations are said to be underway with Fortissimo Film Sales (www.fortissimo.nl), which handles sales for The Man from London.