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Film financier Garcia preps ‘Top Cat’

Producer working with Nala Films, Lemon Films

MEXICO CITY — Life is looking purr-fect for Mexican banker-turned-producer Alex Garcia.

The film financer is making an animated feature of classic Hanna-Barbara TV cartoon “Top Cat” with Mexican shingle Anima Studios, with WB keen to release it day and date across Latin America in 2011 or summer 2012.

The producer also has his hands in projects with Santa Barbara-based Nala Films, the Rovzar Bros.’ Lemon Films in Mexico and Argentina’s Costa Films to name a few of his partners.

“I have the movie business running through my veins,” Garcia says. His grandfather, Arturo de Cordova, was a film legend from Mexico’s Golden Age of Cinema, acting in 102 films from 1936 to 1971 in Mexico and Hollywood, including Sam Wood’s classic “For Whom the Bell Tolls.”

Garcia may be a movie biz blue blood, but he cut his teeth in banks not studios. After working 16 years as a banker, he began dabbling as an investor with Anima in 2003.

It was around that time that he met Fernando and Billy Rovzar, media royalty in their own right — their uncle is Televisa honcho Emilio Azcarraga Jean.

“I saw how passionate they were about making great movies,” he says. “For me it was a perfect match, Billy and Fernando’s passionate creativity and eye, mixed with my knowledge in finance, business and also a little bit of creativity and love for making movies.”

Indeed, he went on to pick up his first feature producer cred with Lemon’s “Sultanes del sur” in 2007.

His Televisa ties extended when its distrib arm, Videocine, asked Garcia to take part in an alliance with Lionsgate begun last year, helping produce a string of films through one of his various mini-shingles — Prinz Films.

In 2006 Garcia formed the Latin American Film Co. along with a number of partners including the Weinsteins and Eduardo Costantini of Buenos Aires-based Costa Films. With them, he helped produce Brazilian police thriller “Tropa de Elite” (Elite Squad) in 2007 and Guillerma Arriaga’s directorial debut “The Burning Plain.”

Garcia, Costa and Lemon put together “El artista,” which screened at Mar de Plata last year, and has just co-produced the near-future thriller “La ultima muerte” with Kuno Becker.

Going to L.A. in 2007, Garcia and the Rovzars began talks with another Televisa scion Emilio Diez Barroso, whose Santa Monica-based Nala Films, founded in 2004, has access to productions at the scale of $10 million to $40 million.

Garcia’s first full involvement came with psychological thriller “Shelter,” starring Julianne Moore and Jonathan Rhys Meyers.

Garcia is also looking at Colombia, following Fox TV’s foray there with “Mental,” as prime territory for TV and film projects in conjunction with Lemon TV and Lemon Films.

However, his most exciting project right now might just be Anima’s “Top Cat.”

A modest success stateside, “Top Cat” is one of the most beloved toons in Latin America, owing much to its clever retelling using Mexican regional accents. After buying the film rights from WB in 2008, production began early this year. The script is currently in its third treatment.

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