VARIETY – Adria Arjona and Wagner Moura will star in the feature film adaptation of Francisco Goldman’s bestselling book “Say Her Name.” The film, which will be directed by Gerardo Naranjo, will feature a script by Goldman, while Arjona and Moura will executive produce. UTA Independent Film Group is representing worldwide rights and will be launching sales at EFM.
Naranjo is best known for directing “Miss Bala,” which premiered in Cannes in 2011, and was the Mexican entry for the Oscars and Goya awards that year. He has directed episodes of acclaimed series such as “The Walking Dead” and “Narcos,” and his latest film “Kokoloko” won Best Mexican Film at Guadalajara in 2020.
Goldman is the author of six books, including the 2022 Pulitzer Prize finalist “Monkey Boy.” He wrote the screen adaptation for HBO’s 2020 crime documentary “The Art of Political Murder,” based on his 2007 nonfiction book by the same name. “Say Her Name” will be Goldman’s second book to be adapted into a film.
The story chronicles the relationship between Goldman and his wife Aura Estrada. It follows a perpetually single novelist and journalist, who is caught off guard when he falls passionately in love. Aura is an aspiring and brilliant young writer with a wild side, who is fiercely loyal to her mother, who wants to separate Aura from Francisco and who blames him after Aura’s tragic death.
Arjona is best known for starring in HBO Max’s “Father of the Bride,” as well as for her leading role in the Star Wars series “Andor.” She also co-starred in “Morbius.” She will next appear in Richard Linklater’s action-comedy “Hitman” opposite Glen Powell and in Zoe Kravitz’s directorial debut film “Pussy Island.”
Moura earned raves and a worldwide fan base for his work as Pablo Escobar in the Netflix series “Narcos,” for which he earned a Golden Globe nomination. He will next be seen in Alex Garland’s “Civil War,” as well as in Donald Glover’s limited series “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” for Amazon. Moura’s credits include Olivier Assayas’ “WASP Network” opposite Penelope Cruz, Gael Garcia Bernal, Netflix’s “Sergio” opposite Ana de Armas and Jose Padilha’s “Elite Squad” films.
Producers on “Say Her Name” are William Horberg of Wonderful Films (“The Queen’s Gambit”), Juan de Dios Larraín of Fabula Films (“A Fantastic Woman“), and Zak Kilberg of Convergent Media (“The Mauritanian”). Russell Smith and Michael Cleaver of Convergent Media, Pablo Larraín of Fabula, Carlos Enrique Cuscó and Ari Taboada of Foton Pictures serve as executive producers, along with Laura Bickford.
“The film contains love and tragedy in equal parts. I love how Francisco and Aura’s relationship evolves from simple flirting to a meaningful universe they create together both in Mexico and in NYC, a love that changes both of their lives,” said Naranjo. “Paradoxically, it is in Mexico’s idyllic playas that Aura dies tragically. The accident moves the story towards grief in the form of memory and nostalgia.”
Naranjo added, “I’m thrilled to be working with Adria — actress, artist — who is perfect to embody Aura, the one who is not with us; and to also have the incredibly talented Wagner on board to play Francisco. I feel honored to be bringing to life the story of these two exceptional souls.”
The film is being financed by Foton Pictures, and has received a seven-figure grant from Eficine and the Mexican Film Institute.
Naranjo is Repped by Novo Entertainment. Arjona is repped by CAA, Anonymous Content, The Lede Company and Goodman, Genow, Schenkman, Smelkinson & Christopher. Moura is repped by WME, Black Rabbit Media and the law firm of Johnson Shapiro Slewett & Kole.