La Raya

Indigenous community-set dramedy marks Cruz’s fiction feature debut

LOS CABOS, Mexico – Marking the first business to go down at Los Cabos’  second Baja Fest, Canana — the company founded by Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna and Pablo Cruz — has sealed a deal with Mexican helmer Yolanda Cruz to produce her fiction debut, social dramedy “La Raya.”

Also written by Cruz, “La Raya” blends two potentially invigorating filmmaking influences: Cruz’s own origins, already seen in a string of documentaries, such as “Reencuentros 2501 migrantes,” detailing indigenous communities in Mexico and the large impact of immigration; and a U.S. film education, begun with an MFA from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television.

“La Raya” was put through the Sundance Institute’s Workshop for Production, Writing and Directors. It also counts the support of Sundance Feature Film and the Sundance Department of Support for Indigenous Films.

The story centers on an adolescent, Papio, who lives in rural Oaxaca. Like most of the other men, he dreams of leaving his native town of La Raya in search of a better life in the U.S. However, the unexpected appearance of a refrigerator leads him and the local townspeople to question modernity and what truly is a better life.

Pablo Cruz (“Miss Bala,” “Chavez”) will produce for Canana. “La Raya” is skedded tentatively for fall 2014.

“We love the screenplay and we love the storytelling,” he said.

“Also, we never want to forget the founding mission of Canana, which is to nurture new talent from Mexico and other parts of Latin America, such as Yolanda Cruz,” he said.  “La Raya” harked back to early Canana productions such as 2007’s indigenous community-set “Cochochi,” but had the added attraction of its rigorous Sundance development process, he added.

“What is striking about the indigenous communities in Oaxaca is the absence of men, because of the huge impact of immigration. But I wanted to approach this subject, and its impact on children, with a light touch,” Yolanda Cruz said, suggesting “La Raya,” which has a semiautobiographical inspiration, channeled some inspiration from Emir Kusturica’s comedies.

She added: “This is to a certain extent the story of my family, and what terrible capitalists we turned out to be.”

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