EXCLUSIVE: Alibi Media has snapped up film rights to Juan Gabriel Vásquez’s acclaimed 2014 novel The Sound of Things Falling, tapping House of Gucci screenwriter Roberto Bentivegna to direct the project as his first feature, from his own script.
The novel published by Penguin Group imprint Riverhead Books follows Antonio Yammara, who after being injured in a shootout and witnessing the murder of the mysterious Ricardo Laverde, decides to find out who his friend really was, beginning a journey into the dark heart of Colombia’s drug trade. What follows is an investigation into a dead man’s past, and a pilgrimage to unlock that most elusive thing: the truth.
Widely considered one of the most important Latin American novels of the century, The Sound of Things Falling won Spain’s prestigious Premio Alfaguara in 2011 before going on to win prizes including Italy’s Premio Gregor von Rezzori-Città di Firenze and the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. The New York Times bestseller has been published in 30 languages and 50+ countries worldwide. The feature adaptation will be produced by Alibi’s Founder and CEO, Cristina Palacio.
“I’m thrilled to have this novel adapted to the screen by Roberto Bentivegna, whose work I admire, and produced by the wonderful Cristina Palacio,” Vásquez told Deadline. “The book couldn’t be in better hands.”
Stated Bentivegna: “When Cristina brought THE SOUND OF THINGS FALLING to my attention last year, I was immediately captivated by it. There have been several books, films and TV shows that attempt to tell the dark past of Colombian’s drug trade. Few, in my opinion, do so as poetically and evocatively as Juan Gabriel Vasquez’s masterpiece. It is a story about people, first and foremost – and a wonderful opportunity to depict a “Latin Noir” in the vein of the 70s existential thrillers I love.”
Added Palacio: “Taking Juan Gabriel’s book to the screen has been a persistent obsession. It can not be more Colombian. It can not be more brilliant. Only a privileged and talented mind like Roberto Bentivegna’s could set to the task of adapting this novel. I believe no one could grasp its essence better than him.”
Vásquez has, in addition to The Sound of Things Falling, penned novels including The Informers, The Secret History of Costaguana, Reputations, The Shape of the Ruins and the forthcoming Retrospective, all of them translated into English by Anne McLean. Among his other works are the short story collections Lovers on All Saints’ Day and Songs for the Flames, as well as two books of literary essays — El arte de la distorsión and Viajes con un mapa en blanco. The writer has translated works by Joseph Conrad and Victor Hugo, among others, and has won two Simón Bolívar awards for his work as a journalist, also seeing his work recognized with awards including the Royal Spanish Academy Prize, the Casa de América Latina de Lisboa Prize, the Biblioteca de Narrativa Colombiana Prize, the Roger Caillois Prize, and the Mario Vargas Llosa Biennial Novel Prize, to name a few. He was named chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters of the French Republic in 2016, and was awarded the Order of Isabel la Católica by the King of Spain just two years later.
Bentivegna is a BAFTA nominee best known for adapting (with Becky Johnston) Sarah Gay Forden’s House of Gucci — an epic tale of Italian history, fashion, power and family politics — for four-time Oscar nominee Ridley Scott. The film starring Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Al Pacino, Jared Leto, Jeremy Irons and Salma Hayek came in as one of the most successful feature dramas of the pandemic era upon its November 2021 release — grossing over $153MM worldwide — while claiming Oscar and Golden Globe noms and other accolades. Also coming up for Bentivegna is an adaptation of Jo Nesbø’s The Jealousy Man and Other Stories for Amazon, with Brad Weston producing.
Palacio is best known as one of Latin America’s foremost reality TV showrunners, having produced international editions of such beloved formats as MasterChef, Survivor and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, while creating original competition shows like Reto 4 Elementos in Mexico and Colombia. Her Pan-American production company, Alibi, is currently producing the fourth season of the latter series for Televisa. Additional credits include the comedic feature Tuya, mía… te la apuesto starring Adrian Uribe, two seasons of the Latin version of Design Star for Discovery, three seasons of Inseparables (Power Couple) for Televisa and Univision, and the upcoming El Ruido de las Cosas al Caer.
Bentivegna is repped by WME and Johnson Shapiro Slewett & Kole.