‘Chosen Ones’ David Pablos to direct Roberto Bolaño’s massive novel of poet-rebels in ‘70s Mexico
Canana, one of the most important film producers in Latin America, is set to adapt one of the most important literary properties in Latin America, Roberto Bolaño’s towering “The Savage Detectives,” for many, the modern Latin American novel.
As it turns 10, this is the most ambitious project which the Mexico City and L.A-based Canana, founded by Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna and Pablo Cruz, has ever taken on, and one, by far, of the biggest in scope now coming out of Latin America.
Mexican David Pablos, whose “The Chosen Ones” played to acclaim at Cannes 2015 Un Certain Regard, is attached to direct. Deal for the adaptation was negotiated by Cruz, with Bolaño’s widow, Carolina Lopez.
Published in 1998, in a final decade of feverish creativity from Chile’s Bolaño, who died in 2003 at the age of 50, “The Savage Detectives” is told in three parts. In a first, set in Mexico City in 1975, Juan Garcia Madero, a 17-year-old Mexican orphan, joins a gang of poet rebels, the “visceral realists,” who want to tear down Latin America’s literary establishment; some 50 narrators in book’s second, core section narrate the fate of the group’s members from 1976 to 1996; third part, narrated by Garcia Madero again, relates the central event that changed everybody’s lives.
Cruz and Pablos are currently developing an early treatment. Such is the book’s complexity, Cruz said, that “we do not want to tie ourselves down to a specific format, most probably it will be a film in several parts, maybe a two-hour film, even a mini-series.” Its focus, however, is clear: “This is a beautiful book that deals with people that want to change things, change the establishment. This is what the film wants to center on.”
Written in a kinetic vital style, “Savage Detectives” focuses not on the group’s poetry but their lives, sex, creation, the desire to leave a legacy, “the story from day one of coming of age and becoming an artist,” Cruz said, adding that, given Bolaño’s following across Latin America and in the U.S. , it would be natural to structure the film as a pan-American co-production, including the U.S.
The adaptation will retain Bolano’s kinetic style, said Pablos. It will be made in Spanish. Calling the book a “hyperbole for youth at large,” Pablos said that “The Savage Detectives” is about “the awakening of a group of young people who want to change the course of Latin American poetry. But they failed terribly. They all end up forgotten.”