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Born a King – Agusti Villaronga

Annual Top Films Lists

Top 150 Most Anticipated Foreign Films of 2019: #119. Born a King – Agusti Villaronga

Top 150 Most Anticipated Foreign Films of 2019: #119. Born a King – Agusti Villaronga

Born a King

Agusti Villaronga’s ninth feature Born a King should be ready for 2019 in what stands as one of the Spanish filmmaker’s largest productions in some time. Produced by Stuart Sutherland of Celtic Entertainment, Andres Vincent Gomez of Lola Films (Belle Epoque, 1992; Alex de la Iglesia’s The Day of the Beast, 1995) and Marco Gomez (Alex de la Iglesia’s Common Wealth, 2002) and lensed by Josep M. Civit (of Villaronga’s Uncertain Glory and The King of Havana), the period piece stars Ed Skrein, Abdullah Khaleel (in his film debut), Hermione Corfield, James Fleet, Kenneth Cranham, Ruben Ochandiano and Laurence Fox. Oscar winning producer Andres Vincent Gomez spent four years obtaining government permits to shoot on location in Saudi Arabia and it is the country’s first international co-production.

Villaronga, winner of nine Goya Awards, is still best remembered for his shock cinema of the 1980s, notably his 1986 debut In a Glass Cage, which was heavily championed by John Waters, and his 1989 sophomore film Moon Child which starred Lisa Gerrard and won him a spot in the Cannes competition. Villaronga would only release one feature in the 1990s (1997’s 99.9), but over the past five years, the director has been more active than ever. 2015 saw him release The King of Havana and the documentary El Testament de la Rosa. He followed that in 2017 with Uncertain Glory. His 2010 Black Bread was Spain’s official submission for Academy Award consideration in the Best Foreign Language category. In 2000 Villaronga competed in Berlin with The Sea. San Sebastian has invited Villaronga to compete three times, with 2002’s Aro Tulbukhin – In the Mind of a Killer, 2010’s Black Bread and 2015’s The King of Havana.

Gist: Henry Fitzherbert’s script (from a story by Ray Loriga and Bader Al Samari) is set in 1919 and tells the story of Faisal, a 14-year-old Arab prince set to London on a diplomatic mission to secure the formation of his Saudi Arabia.

Release Date/Prediction: Villaronga completed production in late 2017/early 2018 and a premiere in Saudi Arabia was expected prior to international or festival play. As a local premiere has yet to be confirmed, Villaronga may not appear in Berlin (which could be his first time competing in 19 years), although an appearance at San Sebastian, where’s he competed three times in the more recent past might be its international premiere.

Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is's Chief Film Critic and covers film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and TIFF. He is part of the critic groups on Rotten Tomatoes, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), FIPRESCI, the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2023: The Beast (Bonello) Poor Things (Lanthimos), Master Gardener (Schrader). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.

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