The intricate, multi-layered drama starring Penelope Cruz, Gael Garcia Bernal, Edgar Ramirez and Wagner Moura explores the true story of the Cuban Five, who were sent to Florida in the 1990s to infiltrate local groups and carry out espionage. Assayas wants to show a tweaked version of the movie — which is adapted from Fernando Moraiss book, The Last Soldiers of the Cold War — at the New York Film Festival in October.
“There are a few things that need clarification,” the Personal Shopper and Carlos director told me today. “There are a series of fixes Ill make. I might shorten some parts and lengthen others. The running time wont change considerably, but its about gaining fluidity. I want the film to be understood by those who arent aware of the complexities of the local politics. The fixes will be done for the New York Film Festival [screening].”
Assayas added: “The morning after I saw the film in Venice I sent a text message to [producer] Rodrigo [Teixeira] about changing elements of the films second half. I sensed there were moments when the audience had doubts, that they might be uncomfortable with the politics, and I thought they would be easy fixes.”
The movie has been well-sold in Europe but has yet to strike a U.S. deal. There were some very positive reviews out of Venice, though others said they found the plot hard to follow.
The changes could see a little more of Cruzs character in the film, the director said. “There will possibly be a little more Penelope Cruz because thats the character we empathise with most.”
The director only finished shooting the movie on May 4. “It has been a crazy schedule,” he noted. “To get the film ready for Venice was an intense process. Its one of the most complex and ambitious films Ive made.”
Some critics have suggested the films sprawling narrative have might also lent itself well to a multi-part movie — like the acclaimed Carlos — or to a miniseries. Assayas never felt that urge.
“The work of these guys could have felt quite repetitive [in a series or multi-part movie]. They werent James Bond. They were proletarian spies with tough lives. I wanted to have a different focus and approach.”
Wasp Network was among the first foreign films about Cuban-American politics to shoot in Cuba. Given that, there was a certain amount of surveillance of the production.