Headlined by Penelope Cruz and Edgar Ramirez, Wasp Network is world
premiering and competing in Venice, but the Cuba-set film was a
long-shot to get made because of its political subject and the
difficulties in raising financing, director Olivier Assayas said.
Wasp Network centers on the true story of Cuban spies in American territory during the 1990s, when anti-Castro groups based in Florida carried out military attacks on Cuba and the Cuban government struck back with the Wasp Network to infiltrate those organizations.
Assayas wrote the screenplay, which is based on Fernando Morais’ book, The Last Soldiers of the Cold War: The Story of the Cuban Five, published by Companhia das Letras.
Assayas, whose credits include the Golden Globe-winning miniseries Carlos and Personal Shopper, which won him the best director prize at Cannes, told Variety that Cuban authorities had initially refused to let the film shoot there.
“They first refused to give us the authorization but discussions continued. So we searched for a location that could substitute for Havana and were about to start shooting elsewhere… But then the Cubans changed their minds and opened all the doors for us,” said Assayas, who lived in Havana for half a year to make the movie.
On the other hand, Olivier Assayas will head back into the cutting room with his Wasp Network, the filmmaker told Deadline on the day of its North American premiere.
Assayas wants to show a tweaked version of the movie at the New York Film Festival in October.
“There are a few things that need clarification. There are a series of fixes I’ll make. I might shorten some parts and lengthen others. The running time won’t change considerably, but it’s about gaining fluidity. I want the film to be understood by those who aren’t aware of the complexities of the local politics. The fixes will be done for the New York Film Festival [screening].”
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. It’s one of the most complex and ambitious films I’ve made.”
Sources: Variety, Deadline.