Francisco Ramos, Alejandro Ripstein to produce

Francisco Ramos and Alejandro Ripstein are moving into pre-production on “Los Capos del norte,” the first feature at their new Mexican shingle, Laberinto Films.

Shooting September, “Capos” will be directed by Gerardo Tort (“Streeters,” “Round Trip”) and has been penned by Vicente Lenero, who wrote Mexican B.O. hit “The Crime of Father Amaro.”

“Los Capos” is based on the life of drug cartel executive Alex Hodoyan, who disappeared in 1996 after being questioned by both the Mexican military police and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

This fall, first-time director Jose Luis Valle will shoot “Operacion Baby” for the duo. Based on true events, and set in the ‘80s, “Baby” turns on four poor kids who kidnap a relative of the former Shah of Iran, during his exile in Costa Rica, in order to finance Salvador’s Contras guerrilla forces.

Ramos and Alejandro Ripstein, son of director Arturo Ripstein, were high school friends at Mexico City’s American High School.

Based out of Madrid, first at Aurum, between 1997 and 2000, and then at his own label Alquimia Cinema, Ramos was one of Spain’s most prolific pic producers in the first half of the decade, making Berlin Competish contenders “Between the Legs” and “Piedras,” Argentina’s 2002 Oscar submission “Kamchatka,” and Penelope Cruz starrer “No ti movere.”

Assailed by cash-flow problems after he lost a distribution deal at Spain’s On Pics, Ramos slowed but never stopped production from 2006, having just took the lead producer role on “Mentiras y gordas,” co-producing with Tornasol; Sony will release pic in Spain March 27.

In Spain, Alquimia begin a June shoot on the still-untitled feature from Gustavo Mosquera (“Moebius”), toplining Leonardo Sbaraglia, Carmen Maura and Leonor Watling.

Ramos’ move into production in Mexico is yet another sign that, for Spain-based indie producers, financing is far easier to come by outside Spain.

Financing for Laberinto’s films will mix Mexico’s Section 226 tax breaks, government film funds Fidecine and Foprocine, advances from Mexican distributors, both U.S. studios and indies, against rights to Mexico or Latin America.

In Spain, distributors no longer put up advances, and often require producers to pay for P&A.

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