EROS MAGIC & MURDER

                     Based on the book Eros, Magic and the Murder of Professor Culianu by Ted Anton
                   University of Chicago Press, Northwestern University Press, 1996. ISBN #0810113961


A supernatural, political thriller, Eros, Magic & Murder tells the story of the still-unsolved murder of Ioan Culianu, the first political assassination of a professor on American soil. With a projected budget of $15M USD, we plan to go into production with John Crye in the spring of 2017. We are currently in discussions with E. Elias Merhige to direct and Romanian writer, Andrei Codrescu, to consult on the production. We have a script and a shooting budget from René Besson. We have raised $42,500 USD as of April, 2017.

Comps include Spotlight, The Imitation Game, Woman in Gold, The Theory of Everything, Selma and The Big Short — films proving that critics and filmgoers alike are mesmerized by true life stories. In addition, Eros, Magic & Murder will appeal to the foreign market as a global story with a Romanian protagonist set in the U.S., Italy, France, Romania and the Netherlands.

SHORT SYNOPSIS

Ioan Culianu was shot execution style at the Divinity School at the University of Chicago, May 21, 1991. He was 41, The search for his killers led the Chicago police and FBI from a psychic in Southeast Chicago to Washington, D.C. to the newly formed Romanian Government in Bucharest. The assassination took place in broad daylight in the men’s room at the University of Chicago’s Swift Hall. 

Born in Romania, Culianu, who called himself “America’s Greatest Patriot,” defected in 1972. His whole life he’d dreamed of coming to America and teaching at the University of Chicago with his idol, father-figure and mentor, renowned Romanian scholar Mircea Eliade. Six weeks before Eliade’s death, someone set fire to his private library at the University and he appointed Culianu his literary executor, at last bringing him to America.

Culianu remained at the University, fell in love and thrived. A rock-star academic in the field of religion, he was destined to surpass even Eliade. But Culianu’s dark past in Romania haunted him. He spoke too openly against the Communist regime still in power; then more sinister forces appeared: In the ashes of Eliade’s library, he discovered his mentor’s early involvement with fascism and Romania’s Iron Guard.

Ioan Culianu didn’t believe in coincidences. To him, everything in life was magically connected. All was a unity. But in the end, in spite of his belief in freedom and the power of the mind to create the future, across continents and across a lifetime, fate finally caught up with him. This movie is a tribute to his genius and his ideas. It’s not about who killed him, it’s about why.

THE STORY

On the last morning of his life, Ioan Culianu, 41, taught a class at the University of Chicago on Gnosticism, the study of ancient mystic sects. Two hours later, he was dead of a single .25-caliber bullet to the back of the head. His execution-style murder in a campus bathroom stunned the school, terrified the students, and stumped the Chicago police and the FBI.

I expected to wake up and see my good mother bending protectively over my bed at home. And so it will be to the end, and I will expect her cool and soft hand to dispel evil even at the hour of my death. - Ioan Culianu

A Romanian exile, Ioan Culianu called himself “America’s greatest patriot.” His whole life he had dreamed of coming to America and working with the great Romanian scholar, Mircea Eliade, his idol and father figure. Even as his own fame as a scholar of esoteric religion grew, Culianu worshiped Eliade, courting him from all over Europe. Eliade led him on, befriended him, but kept him at a distance.

In 1986, Eliade called for him; someone had set fire to his private library at the University of Chicago. Dying, he made Culianu his literary executor and asked him to reassemble his writings from the ashes. Culianu arrived in Chicago in March. His life’s dream had come true. A month later, Eliade was dead and Culianu’s future was uncertain. He went back to teach in Europe but eventually, offered a position to teach at Chicago, he returned to America.

In Chicago, Culianu fell in love with a graduate student, the vision in his dreams. His life and work were unfolding as he’d willed it, created by the magic he believed in. A rock-star academic in the field of religion, he was worshiped like Eliade and admired by the European intellectuals who knew he was destined to surpass even Eliade. But his dark past in Romania still haunted him. In the ashes of Eliade’s library, he discovered a shocking truth: Eliade’s early involvement with Romania’s fascist Iron Guard and his ongoing involvement with the World War II exiles that had settled in Chicago.

In 1972, Culianu had joined the Communist party to escape Romania and study in Italy where he defected. Once in America, he felt safe and used his freedom to attack the Romanian government, mocking them in political fiction and essays. The 1989 October Revolution wasn’t a revolution, he said; it was a coup. He mocked that, too. But it is the prophetic quality of his writings that adds the eeriest dimension to his story.

An expert in the occult, his students flocked to his weekly spaghetti dinners where he’d read tarot  and tell their futures; often he came up with predictions unnervingly on-target. In his writings, he spoke of events that manifested months or years later, of secret sects and murders remarkably like his own. Three days before he was killed, he hosted a conference at the University on the afterlife: “Other Realms: Death, Ecstasy and Otherworldly Journeys.”

Culianu believed that our lives and futures are created by our minds and by the forces that control them: propaganda, magic, or Madison Avenue. “If I shot you in the head,” a student once asked him, “would it all be in your mind?”

Culianu’s life had few coincidences. It was a tapestry woven by fate and, in spite of his belief in freedom and the power of the mind to create the future, he couldn’t escape it. Eros Magic & Murder follows this life, gliding in and out of disparate worlds and dimensions, weaving them together like strands; magic, past and future, politics, death and love.

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E. ELIAS MERHIGE, Director

E. Elias Merhige is responsible for some of the most gripping visuals in modern cinema. His
landmark film Begotten was hailed as "an extraordinary original accomplishment" by Susan
Sontag and named "One of the Year's Ten Best Films" by Richard Corliss in TIME Magazine.
His follow-up film, Shadow of the Vampire, starring John Malkovich and Willem Dafoe, was
nominated for two Academy Awards. He is currently working on a new film, a metaphysical
fable, Polia and Blastema. We are excited he has chosen Eros, Magic & Murder as his return to
feature film.


JOHN B. CRYE, Producer

John Crye was creative director at Newmarket Films where he led the development, acquisition, production and distribution of independent classics Memento, Donnie Darko, Whale Rider, Monster, Downfall and The Prestige. He helped launch Wrekin Hall Entertainment with Chris Ball, acquiring and releasing Peter Weir's The Way Back and Hesher. He is currently founding partner with Todd Sharp at SharpCrye Productions creating fantastic branded content on indie budgets. 


JULIA JONES, Screenwriter

Julia Jones has a long career writing, developing and financing films. She has two produced films and was co-writer with Stephen K. Bannon on the documentary In the Face of Evil: The Epic Struggle of Ronald Reagan. She is founder of East Coast Pictures, LLC, a development company devoted to creating independent content for a global market.                                
 

OF COUNSEL 

Robert Fyvolent is a partner at the Law Offices of Weinberg and Fyvolent, specializing in
independent film finance, production and distribution. He was Head of Business and Legal
Affairs at Newmarket Films from 1999-2009, and Counsel at Sony Pictures Entertainment,
1999-2004. He is currently legal counsel on The Comedian, a film directed by Taylor Hackford
and starring Robert De Niro.


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CONTACT:  John B. Crye Tel 01 310 780-7472