Raindance: Avanti Pictures Raises the Ante with ‘A Useless Puddle’

Jack Zagha's feature project, selected for Focus on Mexico co-production forum

Jack Zagha’s “A Useless Puddle,” a psychological drama selected for Raindance’s Focus on Mexico Co-production Forum, marks Mexican prodco Avanti Pictures’ most ambitious feature project to date.

A film adaption of Spanish writer David Desola’s play “La charca inutil,” “Puddle,” which is set in the United States, following Oscar, a high school teacher who loses his job after a crazy incident with a student. Then, his old time mentor offers him a job as a private teacher to a young kid and his single mother.

After accepting, Oscar learns that the boy died accidentally three years earlier in an infamous town massacre and his mother has created a prior-shooting world to avoid confronting her unbearable reality.

In David Desola’s original stage play, the boy was killed in Madrid’s terrorist attacks of March 11, 2004, film’s script, also penned by Desola, transfers the boy’s death to a Northern town of the U.S., where he becomes a victim of a mass shooting in a school, per Yossy Zagha, producer at Avanti Pictures.

“The film addresses several issues, including people’s mental health, the aftermath of the massacres, years after they happened, and the mass media’s sensationalism about them,” Zagha said.

“These tragedies have become a very contemporary topic around the world but we address the guns control issue in a totally different way: Pointing out the consequences, but without judging,” he added.

With an initial budget of $7 million – “Our more important film in terms of budget” in Zagha’s words – “A Useless Puddle” has raised $1.5 million to date, having gained backing from a group of Mexican private investors. English-language project is in development stage and is skedded to eneter pre-production in February.

Avanti Pictures executives have travelled to Raindance’s Focus on Mexico to find a co-production partner or a sales agent that could help package the film. “We see high potential in shooting the film in the U.K. because of the similarity between its weather and with the North of the U.S. and because of its tax incentives,” Zagha said.

According to Zagha, “the most important in this project is to achieve a triple-A casting that can lure audiences, but we are open to partner with international co-producers, adapting our figures.”

At Mexico-based Avanti Pictures, Yossy Zagha has already produced brother Jack Zagha’s dark comedy “Goodbye Cruel World,” which won best narrative feature at 2010 Austin Film Fest and was acquired by HBO in the U.S., plus “One For the road,” the final adventure of four aging friends, winner of the Audience Award at Spain0s Valladolid’s Seminci Festival, sold worldwide by Germany’s Media Luna.

Avanti’s more recent feature, Jack Zagha’s “Warehoused,” another film adaptation of a David Desola play, will world preem at the upcoming edition of Mexico’s Morelia Film Festival after winning in March several awards at the Guadalajara Fest’s Work in Progress section,  Guadalajara Construye.

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