Yibran Asuad’s “Freckles,” Julio Hernandez Cordon’s “Buy Me a Revolver” and Carlos Cuaron’s “Amalgam” featured among highlights at Producers Day, a co-production forum at last week’s Mexico’s Cinema and Audiovisual Market and Industry (MICA).
Unspooling on the eve of Dec. 7’s Fenix Ibero-American Film Prizes, the Producers Day also saw new projects presented by Jimena Montemayor, “Women at Dawn” which depicts women at war, and Paula Markovitch’s “Room Temperature” a choral drama taking place in Mexico City.
The MICA market was organised by the state-backed Mexican Film Institute (IMCINE). That gave the event considerable pulling power to attract some of the choicest projects from Mexico’s youngest generation of filmmakers, and some more seasoned directors. Often seeking international co-production partners through first half 2017, these titles will shape Mexico-s presence at international markets throughout next year.
Pitched by their producers or directors, the MICA movie projects also often underscore the larger production, artistic and market ambitions of Mexican directors whose producers slates are increasingly dominated by movies which would be described more accurately as (sometimes niche) mainstream or crossover titles rather than classic arthouse fare.
Produced by Gerardo Gatica and Alfredo Muffelmann at Panorama and Peliculas de la Leyenda’s Ramiro Ruiz, “Freckles” (“Pecas”) marks the second feature from Asuad, a notable editor (“I’m Gonna Explode,” “Gueros,” “We Are the Flesh”). Written by Gibran Portela (“La jaula de oro”)
and Javier Peñalosa, “Freckles” is a PG-13 coming of age comedy set at a high-school where a new boy tries to win the affections of the (freckled) school beauty. Action is set in Mexico during the 1994 soccer World Cup in the U.S.
“Our generation (Yibrán, Gibrán, Javier and I) lived in our early teens the U.S. World Cup with great passion,” said Gatica. He added: “Everybody remembers their first love. ‘Pecas’ is a film about both, about how far we are willing to go to conquer the girl we like, even if that means creating an improbable school football team which is destined to fail.”
Developed at the Assad-Run La bella Sobriedad writers room, whose members include Ale Marquez, Kyzza Terrazas and Fernando Frias, “Freckles” is scheduled to shoot next summer. “There is a big possibility of international co-production,” Gatica added.
“Buy Me a Revolver” is “inspired by ‘Huckleberry Finn,’ ‘Mad Max,’ baseball and organised crime,” Hernandez Cordon (pictured, left) told Variety. It charts the attempts of a failing father – he’s a tormented drug-addict – who runs a baseball camp for anarch gang to protect his young daughter from being forced by the gang into prostitution. Woo Films’ Maria Jose Cordova and Rafael Ley produce. Harold Torres (), Luis Alberti and Hernandez-Cordon’s two daughters form key cast. The project won two prizes – a record – at this year’s Gabriel Figueroa Film Fund awards at October’s Los Cabos Festival, plus Foprocine investment from Mexico’s state-backed IMCINE Film Institute. Hernandez Cordon plans to shoot in October 2017.
The potential third feature from screenwriter-turned-director Carlos Cuaron (pictured, right), a co-scribe on elder brother Alfonso Cuaron’s “Y Tu Mama Tambien” and writer-director of “Rudi y Cursi,” starring Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna, and young love story “Sugar Kisses,” “Amalgam” will be Cuaron’s first English-language feature. It unspools over one weekend on a miniature Caribbean island, home to three men, a Mexican, American and Brit, and a French woman. One man is gay, the other two of them want the French woman; three of the four are dentists, the other a politician. Someone has a gun.
“It’s a comedy about pain. A dark comedy, or comedy-thriller,” Cuaron said.
In development, but moving towards pre-production, “Amalgam” is set up at Carlos Cuaron’s label, Besos Cosmicos, and Alex Garcia’s AG Studios.
Throwing the light on 10 movies, five documentaries and two TV series, the Producers Day also featured “Women at Dawn” (“Mujeres del alba”), from Montemayor (pictured, centre), whose second feature, “Restos de viento,” screened in post production at the Producers Day.
In early development and based on the novel of the same title, “Women at Dawn” tuns on the 1965 assault on Ciudad Madera military barracks, and especially its fall-out for the attackers’ womenfolk who continue a war they did not chose. Victor Leycegui’s Medio Conejo produces with Mexico’s Canal 22, which has boarded the project and co-producers.
“The story takes place at the beginnings of a war which we now associate with the modern-day Mexican guerrilla. It tells the other side of the story, about those who stayed at home often with mixed or contrary feelings and their search for justice,” Montemayor commented.
“Women at Dawn” coincides with “Restos del viento” in counterposing political combat and family. But it’s also “more complex,” addressing “violence, marginalisation and the abuse of power,” she added.
The co-writer of Fernando Eimbke’s “Duck Season” and “Lake Tahoe” and director of “The Prize,” which won Silver Bears at the 2011 Berlin Festival for cinematography and production design, Paula Markovitch’s “Room Temperature,” which would be her second feature, turns on its characters’ brief moments of revelation, “a strange event which makes them glimpse their own souls,” before they sink back into the hours and days of Mexico City. Based out of Mexico City’s Ojo de Vaca, Abril Lopez (“Margarita”) produces.
Further Producers Day projects took in Beatriz Sanchis’“Where Was the Summer?” a road movie come female friendship tale, and “Brooklyn Treehouse,” a New York-set futuristic comedy thriller from first time director Isabel Suba.
Of other projects, Rodrigo Herranz is set to produce Emilio Portes’ “We Are Hipsters,” a social satire and move away from genre for the “Belzebuth” director.
Also pitched were Frank Spano’s redemption tale “Humanpersons,” produced by Fernando Muñiz at Brazil’s FM Producoes, Spano, Luis Pacheco’s Jaguar Films (“The Colors of the Mountain”) and Beto Dominguez, and “Hijos de la sal,” a coming of age story from Luis and Andres Rodriguez.
MICA PRODUCERS DAY TITLES
“Buy Me a Revolver,” (Julio Hernandez Cordon, Mexico)
“Where Was the Summer,” (Beatriz Sanchiz, Mexico)
“Brooklyn Treehouse,” (Isabell Suba, Mexico)
“Freckles,” (Yibrán Asuad, Mexico)
“Women of Dawn,” (Jimena Montemayor, Mexico)
“We The Hipsters,” (Emilio Portes, Mexico)
“Room Temperature,” (Paula Markovitch. Mexico)
“Amalgam,” (Carlos Cuaron, Mexico)
“Hijos de la sal,” (Luis Rodriguez, Andres Rodriguez, Mexico)
“Human Persons,” (Frank Spano, Panama, Mexico, Brazil)
“The Invisible Border,” (Mariana Flores, Mexico)
“The Eye of the Days,” (J. Xavier Velasco, Mexico)
“Raramuri Comes Back Home,” (Santiago Esteinou, Mexico)
“Estan en algún sitio,” (Pablo Tamez Sierra, Mexico)
“Gods of Mexico,” ( Helmut Dosantos, Mexico)
“Las muertas,” (Helena Medina, Mexico)
“Desenfrenadas,” (Diego Martinez, Mexico)
WORK IN PROGRESS
“El silencio es bienvenido,” (Gabriela García Rivas, Mexico)
“Help Get me Through the Night,” (Jose Ramon Chavez, Mexico)
“Such is Life in the Tropics,” (Sebastian Cordero, Mexico and Germany)
“Mist,” (Max Zunino, Mexico, Germany)
“I Dream in Another Language,” ( Ernesto Contreras, Mexico)
“Restos de viento,” ( Jimena Montemayor Loyo, Mexico)
“Atrás hay relámpagos” (Julio Hernandez Cordon, Mexico, Costar Rica)
“Casa caracol,” ( Jean-Marc Rousseau Ruiz, Mexico)
“The Caothic life of Nada,” (Marta Hernaiz Pidal, Mexico)
“Veronica,” ( Carlos Algara, Alejandro Martinez Beltran, Mexico)
“Guerrero,” (Ludovic Bonleux, Mexico)
“Juan, the Nomad… 100 Years With Rulfo,” (Juan Carlos Rulfo, Mexico)
“Vidas con sabor,” (Pablo Gasca, Mexico)