ICIAR BOLLAIN begins shooting her new film, YULI, written by Paul Laverty and produced once again by MORENA FILMS, together with the UK’s Potboiler Productions.

Spanish filmmaker Iciar Bollain is to begin shooting her latest film, YULI, a biopic of Cuban dancer Carlos Acosta, the first black performer to play some of the most famous roles in ballet at companies such as the Houston Ballet or London’s Royal Ballet, where he was the leading male dancer for more than 15 years.

The film, based on a screenplay by Paul Laverty, will be shot in Cuba, Spain and London later this year.

YULI is Iciar Bollain’s first film with full BBC Films participation in the production; BBC Films also backed the development.

YULI is produced by Juan Gordon of MORENA FILMS and Andrea Calderwood of POTBOILER PRODUCTIONS, in co-production with GALÁPAGOS MEDIA, HIJO DE OGUN A.I.E. (Spain), PRODUCCIONES 5TA AVENIDA, together with ICAIC (Cuba), MATCH FACTORY PRODUCTIONS (Germany) and MANDARIN PRODUCCION (France). BBC Films and Movistar + are also participating, and the film has the support of Eurimages, ICAA, FFA and Berlin Medienfund. The Match Factory will be responsible for international sales of the film. ENTERTAINMENT ONE FILMS SPAIN (eOne Films) will be the distributor in Spain.

CARLOS ACOSTA; Principal Dancer; The Royal Ballet; 2011, Credit:Johan Persson,

• YULI is a journey through the life of Carlos Acosta, from his difficult childhood to maturity, a period that will feature the dancer himself, who, despite his success and international recognition, never forgot his origins.

• Alberto Iglesias will compose the soundtrack of Iciar Bollain’s latest project. Álex Catalán, who worked on MARSHLAND or 1898, OUR LAST MEN IN THE PHILIPPINES will be the director of photography.

• Filming will last eight weeks, six of which will take place on the island of Cuba, with one in Spain and one in London.

“When Paul suggested making a film about Cuban dancer Carlos Acosta, Yuli, I did not hesitate: His autobiography, No Way Home, which inspires the film, is that of a mixed-race boy who grows up on the streets of Havana and against all odds and even his own wishes initially, ends up becoming one of the greatest dancers in the world”.

Iciar Bollain. Director



“Acosta’s artistry also shines in Les Bourgeois, a drunken solo setting of the classic Jacques Brel song (…) Acosta performs this bleary, swaggering, garrulous piece with such pitch-perfect detail that it is genuinely funny and impressive.”

Judith Mackrell (The Guardian)

“What really comes across is the depth and honesty of his dancing: nothing faked, nothing strained. Everything is danced full out, with respect and with love (…) I’ve seen flashier Don Quixote’s, but never one so fond.”

Zoë Anderson (Independent)

“Whatever this show’s largely inevitable shortcomings, Acosta returns to Cuba a hero – and of course his astonishing story is still very far from over.”

Mark Monahan (Telegraph)

“Acosta may be in his early 40s, but his technique, charisma and theatrical allure still outshine all else on stage. (…) Without him, the ballet world will lose much of its shine – the brighter the star, the darker the night.”

Sarah Frater (The Stage)

“Acosta’s dancing is witty and finessed, the prototype of the Elizabethan warrior and courtier.”

Judith Mackrell (The Guardian)


Yuli is the nickname given to Carlos Acosta by his father Pedro, who considers him the son of Ogun, an African warrior god.

From a young age, Yuli fled any kind of discipline and education and the streets of a run-down neighborhood in Havana was where he learned most of his schooling. But his father knows his son has a natural talent for dance and forces him to attend Cuba’s National Dance School.

Despite escaping time after time and his initial indiscipline, Yuli ends up being captivated by the world of the dance, and from childhood will begin to forge his own legend, becoming the first black dancer to interpret some of the most famous roles in ballet, traditionally performed by white dancers, in companies such as the Houston Ballet or London’s Royal Ballet.