Local film goes up against H'w'd blockbusters

GUADALAJARA, Mexico — Recent political scandals in Mexico have prompted indie distrib Gussi Films to target a risky summer release for the first Mexican-U.K. co-production, “Conejo en la luna.”

The political thriller, directed and co-produced by Jorge Ramirez, touches on corruption in the U.K. and Mexico. Story follows a graphic arts designer from Mexico (Bruno Bichir) who flees to London after he is falsely accused of planning a murder.

Lorraine Pilkington (“Human Traffic”) plays his wife. Other cast members include Adam Katz, Reece Dinsdale, Alvaro Guerrero and Rodrigo Murray.

U.K. co-producer Head Gear is in talks with various distribs in the U.K., including Icon.

Hollywood blockbusters crowd Mexico’s 3,000-plus screens during the summer, and recent events, such as the assassination attempt on the Oaxaca governor, have convinced the distrib that an earlier release would benefit the film. “Conejo” is in post-production in London and will be ready by late spring.

Gussi pre-bought the $2.5 million political thriller last year, a rare move on its part. It has bought only a handful of Mexican pics, including political satire “La ley de herodes” four years ago. Gussi picked it up after state-backed Mexican Film Institute (Imcine) tried to bury the pic for poking fun at ruling party PRI.

“It went on to make a respectable $4 million,” said Gussi acquisitions head Alejandro Lebrija.

“Conejo” could not have been made “two years ago when the PRI enjoyed absolute power, but with the current government led by opposition leader President Vicente Fox and a two-party system, we don’t think we’ll experience this kind of censorship,” said Lebrija.

However, the pic will probably be slapped with an 18-and-above rating for its violent and sexual content.

“Conejo” is Ramirez’s second feature. He served as a second unit director on “Like Water for Chocolate” and produced “La Mujer de Benjamin,” by Carlos Carrera (“El Crimen del Padre Amaro”), under his Beanca Films label.

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