Pic industry experiences foreign influence

Foreign companies are coming to the rescue of Mexico’s film industry in the wake of the peso’s devaluation.

Mexico’s national film institute, Imcine, will manage to subsidize just five features this year, down from an average eight to 10 in recent years. Its $8 million annual budget has been slashed by 40% because of the money crunch.

But Canadian, Spanish and French coin, facilitated by bilateral agreements, will boost the budgets of several Mexican pics in coming months.

The highest-profile project is “Edipo Alcalde” (Oedipus Mayor), from an original screenplay by Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Under Colombian helmer Jorge Ali Triana, pic starts filming next month in rural Colombia.

A $2 million, Mexican-Colombian co-production, “Edipo” retells the Oedipus myth with Jorge Perugorria in the title role. Perugorria starred as the homosexual Diego in last year’s Cuban-Mexican-Spanish arthouse hit “Strawberry and Chocolate,” which Imcine also supported.

Film’s Mexican producer, Jorge Sanchez, said Spanish production house Sogetel has come on board, and he’s hoping for further Iberian coin after Mexico and Spain sign a co-production accord at the San Sebastian fest on Sept. 20. Under its terms, a Mexican pic will qualify for Spanish screen-access privileges as long as 20% of its budget comes from Spain.

Also slated for Imcine support is Jaime Humberto Hermosillo’s “De Noche Vienes, Esmeralda” (At Night You Come, Esmeralda), a comedy about polygamy, starring Maria Rojo and co-produced with Canada and Spain. A filmmaker since the 1970s, Hermosillo’s satires of Mexican mores earns him frequent comparisons to Spain’s Pedro Almodovar.

Another veteran director, Arturo Ripstein, will benefit from an Imcine handout for his forthcoming “Profundo Carmesi” (Deep Crimson), a love story about two criminals in 1940s America. Ripstein also is expected to pick up foreign coin, probably in France, where indie producers have aided his past efforts.

Other contenders for foreign support include the Felipe Cazals-directed “El Crimen del Padre Amaro,” from Alameda Films, producers of this year’s top domestic hit “El Callejon de los Milagros” (Midaq Alley).

And Televisa film production head Jean Pierre Leleu already has 50% U.S. backing from Alberto Vidaurri’s Cactus Films for the pic “Christmas Gift.”

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