Will Gerardo Naranjo's New Political Thriller "A Man Must Die" Focus on Manuel Noriega?

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by Anthony Kaufman
July 13, 2012 2:14 PM
2 Comments
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Gerado Naranjo is one of the most exciting new filmmakers on the international scene, combining a vibrant mix of heady cinematic influences with pop aesthetics and provocative politics. When I profiled Naranjo for Variety's 10 Directors to Watch issue, in the wake of the success of his last feature "Miss Bala," he spoke about a new adaptation, which according to reports, sounds like it's moving forward with Focus Features as "A Man Must Die."

"Now, finally, I've found a nice American project that I can adapt, a story, it's a real story, an international thriller that deals with the F.B.I., C.I.A., and a dictatorship outside the U.S. – the F.B.I. has one version, the C.I.A. has one version, and the dictatorship had one version," he told me.

While Naranjo wouldn't explicitly spell out the subject matter, the situation sounds a lot like America's dealings with Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega.

Noriega reportedly worked with the C.I.A. from the late 1950s to the 1980s, and being paid by the U.S., allowed the Americans special listening posts in the Panama canal and aided American-backed guerrillas in Nicaragua by acting as a conduit for U.S. money, and according to some accounts, weapons. But in 1988, the F.B.I. lead an investigation into Noriega's drug dealings and he was eventually indicted in the U.S. on drug charges.

With America's long history of abetting and interfering with plenty of dictatorships over the years, it's hard to say for sure that Naranjo was talking about Noriega. But given Naranjo's background, I'd say it's a good bet. Several books have documented the U.S.'s unseemly relationship with Noriega, from Frederick Kempe's "Divorcing the Dictator: America's Bungled Affair with Noriega" to John Dinges' "Our Man in Panama" as well as the 1992 Oscar-winning documentary "The Panama Deception."

The project certainly falls in line with Naranjo's ambitions. When we talked last year, he told me he was looking for a more international project after making his excellent Mexican-made features "Drama/Mex," "Voy a explotar" and "Bala," possibly, because he knew a lot would be riding on what he does next. "I don't consider myself just a Mexican," he said. "I don't feel this idea of boundaries or borders, and I would like to make movies that have that same feeling."

After "Miss Bala," he said there "have been big offers," but added they weren't "very interesting," he said. "I think the scripts we've been getting are a little bit, you know, brainless action. I would love to make like a 'Mad Max,'" he added, "but I would also like to have the emotion in there."

Naranjo also has a script about an international heist thriller based on an offshore oil rig; he's also attached to direct an adaptation of Charles Martin's novel The Mountain Between Us.

 

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2 Comments

  • Rennidbir | August 13, 2012 11:27 PMReply

    What about Pincohet's rise to power in Chile? There was some nefarious stuff leading up to that junta, with a dead president and (at the time) unacknowledged US involvement in that country's politics.

  • Bruce Spencer | July 14, 2012 10:37 PMReply

    SAVE OUR SYRIA
    (SOS)

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (July 13, 2012)

    Timothy Kessler, a recent resident of Washington, DC , has announced he is hiring a private army to end the genocide in Syria by capturing President Bashar al-Assad and taking him to The Hague for trial. There he will be tried for the slaughter of thousands of innocent men, women and children.
    He said, “Hopefully, this monster will be given a swift trial and then hanged. His unspeakable and reprehensible misdeeds must be stopped now. While the shelling and suffering are watched by millions on television, the impotent United Nations does nothing but engage in mindless babel. I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any longer!”
    Mr. Kessler had put out a discreet call to veterans from the Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan Wars to join his crusade. They will serve as mercenaries and he is also footing the bill for transportation, food, housing, weapons and ammunition. He is not willing to reveal where this Special Forces Unit will train, nor how or when they will strike. His commander is a decorated retired Brigadier General.
    Kessler’s German background includes a grandfather who served in World War II with Col. Otto Skorzeny, until he defected to join the French Underground. His diary reveals the intimate details for Skorzeny’s capture of Benito Mussolini.
    “I can only say,” he continued, “that for the past six weeks I’ve had confidential meetings with former Navy Seals, Green Berets and CIA operatives. We have developed a secret attack strategy along with an exit plan for the highly skilled brave soldiers and sailors . They are willing to put their lives on the line, as will loyal Syrian rebels helping us launch this covert operation.”
    Mr. Kessler admits he will face some chagrin from the White House and Pentagon for revealing his intentions. But he adds, “These are times when decent citizens have to take action. Otherwise we are all guilty of malfeasance and obstruction of justice, standing by as thousands are dying from bullets, bombs and deprivation in Syria.”
    Although this Special Forces Unit has already reached its full complement of volunteers, applications for substitutes will be accepted on a website presently under construction.

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