EXCLUSIVE: LA-based financier CaliWood Pictures has invested in Nadine de Barros’ international sales firm Fortitude ahead of the EFM market in Berlin.
The terms of the investment were not disclosed but we understand de Barros will maintain control over company direction. The backing is designed to grow Fortitude’s production and finance capabilities and provide opportunities for both outfits.
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The two companies previously collaborated on Mack and Rita, starring Diane Keaton, as well as A Little White Lie, with Kate Hudson, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, and Zach Braff. They’re now prepping a slate of undisclosed projects together with the first being lined up to shoot this year.
CaliWood’s investments to date have included A Nice Girl Like You with Lucy Hale, Michael Shannon’s directorial debut, Eric Larue, with Alexander Skarsgard and Judy Greer. The company recently made last-position equity investments in Goodrich, with Mila Kunis and Michael Keaton, and Anna Nicole Smith biopic Hurricanna, both of which are in post-production.
Founded in 2019, CaliWood is led by producer Jina Panebianco, R. Wesley Sierk III, who is also President and Co-Founder of Risk Management Advisors, and John D. Straley, President and Founder of Infinity Wealth Advisors, who served as Partner and Strategist. Audra Gricius serves as Head Development.
Separately, Fortitude has also had recent investment from Joseph Panebianco, President of mortgage loan provider AnnieMac Home Mortgage.
Fortitude, which was set up nine years ago, will launch sales at the EFM on true-life adventure-drama The Penguin & The Fisherman (pictured), starring Jean Reno.
The film is based on a true story which went viral in 2016 — that of the lost and injured penguin, Din Dim, who finds love and family in another lost and wounded soul, João (Reno). The latter is a Brazilian fisherman, guilt-ridden from a horrible tragedy that occurred when he was a young man. He now lives a lonely existence, estranged from his wife and his friends — until the day he sees something bobbing in the waters off his beach. What João comes upon is a small Magellanic penguin, covered in oil and near death; very far away from his native Patagonia. He rehabilitates the tiny creature, and after a complete recovery, releases Din Dim back to the wild. However, despite the distance and danger, Din Dim makes a remarkable return to see his new friend the following year.
The film was filmed primarily on the tropical beaches of Brazil, but also amongst a colony of nearly a million penguins in Patagonia, Argentina.
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