THE MURDER OF PROFESSOR CULIANU
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, the film tells the true 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 pre-production in the spring of 2020. John B. Crye (Memento, The Prestige) is producing with Julia Jones (In the Face of Evil) and Amy Carpenter Scott (Four-Sided Bed). The film is eligible for the 45% tax incentive from the Romanian Film Fund and are currently in discussions with Alien Films in Bucharest. Romanian writer, Andrei Codrescu will consult on the production. We have a script, a shooting budget, and an LOI from Samuel Goldwyn for distribution. We have raised $43,000 USD as of March, 2019.
Comps include Spotlight, The Imitation Game, Woman in Gold, The Theory of Everything, Selma and The Big Short — films proving that critics and film audiences 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.
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.
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
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.
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’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.
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, Discretion Assured starring Michael York and Jennifer O'Neill, and In the Face of Evil: The Epic Struggle of Ronald Reagan, with Stephen K. Bannon, her writing partner of 17 years. In 2005, she founded of East Coast Pictures, LLC, a development company devoted to creating independent content for a global market.
CONTACT: Julia Jones Tel 01 310 850-5854