Bichir, Barraza, Alcazar Talks ‘The Room’

Down-the-decades human dramas feature set up at Mexico’s Machete

Three of Mexico’s most prestigious actors, Oscar nominee Demian Bichir (“A Better Life”), Golden Globe-winner Adriana Barraza (“Babel”), and Damian Alcazar (“The Chronicles of Narnia: Lord Caspian”), are in conversations to star in “The Room.”

Mexico’s Machete Producciones, whose credits include two of Mexico’s most notable debuts in recent years — Michael Rowe’s “Leap Year,”and Diego Quemada Diez’s “La jaula de oro” — will lead produce. Nidia Santiago’s Paris-based Ikki Films co-produces out of France.

Kaori Momoi (“Memoirs of a Geisha”) and Mylene Jampanoi (“Martyrs”) are also in talks for key cast roles.

Machete’s Edher Campos will present “The Room” to potential sales agents at this week’s Ventana Sur Latin American film market which kicks off tomorrow in Buenos Aires.

Campos will also talk up “Little Baby Jesus,” Machete’s first international co-production, and a further sign of growth at the Mexico City-based shingle.

A movie of eight stories, each from a different director, all Mexican, ranging over 100 years, “The Room’s” distinctive human dramas encapsulate the makings of modern Mexico.

Three of “The Room’s” helmers are established name auteurs: Alfonso Pineda Ulloa, who is in post on the Paul Schrader-written “The Jesuit,” Carlos Bolado (“Colosio: The Assassination”) and Ivan Avila Duenas (“Adan y Eva (todavia)”).

Others are on-the-rise helmers: Alejandro Valle (“Stories of Disenchantment”), Patricia Arriaga (“The Last Gaze”), and Sebastian del Amo (“The Fantastic World of Juan Orol,” “Cantinflas”) and Celso Garcia, who in post on his buzzed-up first feature, “The Thin Yellow Line.”

Actor Daniel Gimenez Cacho (“Blancanieves”) will make his film directorial deb in “The Room.”

Written by Maria Diego Hernandez, and intertwining central characters in three of its first four episodes, “The Room” charts the hopes, disillusionment, intimate pleasures and grim destinies of generations of Mexicans.

“It is a metaphor of Mexico, which creates a film universe in a reduced space, a bedroom, allowing the film to plumb the secret lives of its characters,” Campos said.

Bowing in 1910 with Del Amo’s “The Dream,” it opens, for instance, with a dirt-poor day laborer, Hilario, sneaking into the bedroom to murder his ex-boss, the opulent Alfredo, but bungling his attempt embarrassingly.

Set three years later, in Jimenez Cacho’s “The Nightmare,” Hilario gets a second-chance to feel better about himself by killing Alfredo as part of a Mexican Revolution death squad that pays Alfredo a visit.

After 1928’s “About to Sleep,” Bolado ‘s chronicle of Mexico’s Chinese immigrant pograms with Momoi and Jampanoi in line for featured roles, in the 1946-set “Eroticism,” Angela, Alfredo’s young wife in “The Dream,” return to sell the house, and experiences her own sensual revolution in the arms of a Mexican worker.

Barazza would play a house servant who survives from the first to fourth episode.

Characters destinies play out against a larger canvas: Pineda Ulloa’s “Loneliness and the Game” takes place in 1968 on the day of the opening of Mexico’s Aztec Stadium, a milestone of Mexican modernity; Alfonso Valle’s “Delicatessen”-style “Night Watch” begins on the eve of Mexico’s 1985 earthquake; in the1990s “Death,” from Ivan Avila Duenas, rival gangs – who will be played by real street kids – fight for the house, now a ruin.

A contempo coda, Garcia’s “Evocation,” has a historian, Elisa, and a re-development expert, Gabriel, meeting in the room, discovering details about its past occupants, and beginning to restore it as part of a modern world.

If “The Room” has a feel-good factor, it comes from this final episode, Campos said. “The characters are now professionals, educated, able to make the room habitable once more.”

The producers aim to go into production August to September 2014.

The first Mexico-Czech Republic co-production, Lenka Kny’s “Little Baby Jesus” stars the Czech Republic’s Josef Abrham and Igor Chmela and Mexico’s Dolores Heredia and Aislinn Derbez in a Prague-set Christmas comedy about a Mexican family returning to the father’s home country as the daughter seeks to solve her infertility.

“I wanted to diversify, open a window onto the Eastern Europe market. When I Was in Karlovy Vary, I realized there’s not just one European market,” Campos commented.

On “Jesus,” Machete takes rights to Latin America, splits Spain and has a cut of the world outside Europe, he added.

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more