Prolific Mexican producer Ozcar Ramirez of Arte Mecanica (AM), whose most recent pic “El Peluquero Romantico,” helmed by Ivan Avila, competes at Morelia, and Gema Juarez Allen of Argentina’s Gema Films, (“Oscuro Animal”) have teamed up for the first time to co-produce Avila’s next pic, “Chichimeca.” Avila’s production shingle 13 Lunas will also co-produce what would be his seventh arthouse feature.
Set in the 1500s at the time of the Spanish conquest, “Chichimeca” is about a near-extinct tribe of hunter-gatherers in Northern Mexico called Tzacatecos or Cabezas Negras. Avila, who hails from this region, has co-penned the screenplay with playwright-TV scribe Luis Mario Moncada, after researching over the past two years, and consulting an anthropologist. The fiction feature will star real tribesmen and shoot in the remote sierra of the region. “It will be a logistical challenge,” said Ramirez who is targeting a mid-2017 start for principal photography. Drama will be shot chronologically with non-pros, with a budget of nearly $1 million.
“What attracted me to “Chichimeca” was the idea of telling a story about a world we have not seen, of which no traces have been left behind,” said Juarez Allen. “The ‘conquest’ of America destroyed a wealth of cultures, world views and stories which have rarely been told on film, especially in the way Ivan intends to approach it,” she added.
Competing against 14 other local pics in Morelia’s official selection, “El Peluquero Romantico” dwells on a middle-aged man whose mother has passed away and who tries to reconstruct his life after divorce. Ramirez is currently in talks with potential sales agents and distributors. Drama participated in the Primer Corte (First Cut) competition of Buenos Aires-based confab Ventana Sur last year where it won the Premio Le Film Francais, consisting in advertising in the magazine, the Sofía Films post-prod award and a special mention from Argentine TV, involving acquisition of the film.
Arte Mecanica is currently in development on “Los Años Rotos” by Gerardo Tort, a $3.5 million feature on the dirty war in Mexico while it’s also prepping at least two docus: “Where Things Remain” a debut feature docu of Daniela Silva Solozano, and “Robertson St.” by Cecilia Mendoza Vazquez, to shoot in New Orleans. AM is also developing comedy “Hijo de Familia,” to be directed by Hari Sama. “We hope to be shooting at least two features next year,” said Ramirez.
Arte Mecanica is moreover jumping onto the TV bandwagon and expanding its team. “There’s a lot of production of television series for OTTs and free-to-air TV in Mexico but series tend to repeat the same themes or plots; I’d like to do something different,” he said. The shingle’s push into TV is led by Jacopo Fontana, the company’s director of new content, along with executive producer Montserrat Cattaneo, and executive producer Bruna Haddad who joins the team early next year. The historic launch of Mexico’s third broadcasting channel Imagen TV on Oct. 17, which has announced plans to include a raft of original content, is heartening news for independent producers in Mexico. “I hope they opt for content outside of the norm,” said Ramirez.
Among the series in development are “Ni Rubia, Ni Rica,” a millennial-targeted comedy about an aspiring actress in Mexico; thriller “El Tercer Ojo” about two young scientists who become vigilantes after they develop the skills to see the future and prevent crimes; and “Venetia,” a 13-episode gothic thriller series, created, penned and to be directed by Fontana. Set in Venice, “Venetia” revolves around an Inspector Fontana whose investigation into a series of violent murders in Venice leads him to uncover ancient rituals and a secret sect.