Pic about priest's indiscretions stars 'Mama's' Bernal

NEW YORK — Samuel Goldwyn Films has acquired North American rights to controversial Mexican pic “El Crimen de padre Amaro” (The Crime of Father Amaro).

The film, to be released in the U.S. later this year, is already a phenom in Mexico, despite — or perhaps because of — demands from the Catholic Church that it be banned because of its subject matter: priestly sexual indiscretions.

Pic earned $3.1 million its opening weekend and has set box office records including highest-grossing Mexican-produced movie. It ranks second among all releases in Mexico, surpassing hit films such “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” “Ice Age” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.”

Adapted from an 1875 novel by Portuguese author Jose Maria Eca de Queiroz, pic is updated to contempo Mexico, with story centering on the scandal of a young priest, played by Gael Garcia Bernal (“Y tu mama tambien”), assigned to a remote provincial town, where he has an affair with a young woman who becomes pregnant.

Directed by Carlos Carrera, a Cannes Palme d’Or winner for his short film “The Hero,” cast includes Ana Claudia Talancon, Damian Alcazar, Angelica Aragon and Sancho Gracia.

Pact was negotiated by Meyer Gottlieb, prexy of Samuel Goldwyn Films, with pic’s producers, Daniel Birman Ripstein and Alfredo Ripstein. Alameda Films produced in association with Wanda Vision (Spain), Art Cam (France), Cinecolor (Argentina), Blu Films (Mexico) and the Mexican Film Institute.

‘Happy’ with film

Daniel Ripstein said, “We are very happy with the success of the film here in Mexico, and we are sure Samuel Goldwyn Films will do an excellent job in North America.”

Upcoming releases from Samuel Goldwyn include family pic “Little Secrets,” “Das Experiment” and, with Fireworks Pictures, “The Man From Elysian Fields.”

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