Mr. Pig Danny Glover, Maya Rudolph
Courtesy of Canana

Shot in Mexico’s Jalisco, Danny Glover-starrer is first movie to benefit from new Mexican film finance line

A co-investor in Diego Luna’s Danny Glover-starrer “Mr. Pig” which screens in Sundance Premieres, Mexico’s Jalisco Film Fund is renewing for 2016 its risk equity film investment scheme, offering up to Pesos 17 million ($922,000) this year to one foreign or Mexican international co-production which shoots 40% of locations in the state of Jalisco.

JFF president Alberto Lamas Flores launched the 2016 call for applications Tuesday Jan. 26, coinciding with Sundance world premiere of “Mr. Pig,” the third fiction feature from actor-director-producer Luna, star of Amazon’s “Casanova” pilot. Luna’s first fiction feature “Abel” bowed at Sundance to acclaim in 2010.

Tapped for “Mr. Pig” by Mexico and L.A.-based Canana, founded by Luna, Gael Garcia Bernal and Pablo Cruz, the Jalisco Film Fund equity line reps the only film financing scheme in place among Mexico’s 31 states, said JFF director Rodolfo Guzman Salas.

JFF coin can complement federal funding such as Eficine 189 tax finance and Mexican Imcine Film Institute direct financing lines, a battery of financing options which has helped turn Mexico into one of Latin America’s most vibrant movie production scenes.

Studio work can count towards a film’s location count, said Lamas Flores. The Pesos17 million international incentive will be ploughed into one title; 40% of locations is judged by screen time; Jalisco Film Fund investment is first-out, in line with other producers, Guzman Salas added.

Starring Glover as Eubanks, a former California pig-raiser who comes to Mexico to find a home for Howard, his last pig after he’s been forced to let go his farm, the English-language “Mr. Pig” shot in multiple locations in Jalisco. These ranged from Pacific-coast Puerto Vallarta’s Yelapa bay, to Mascota in Jalisco’s pine-covered mountains and the town of Tequila, surrounded by agave fields, the Altos of Jalisco, on the Guanajuato border, and Guadalajara, the state’s ultra-modern capital, which bucks many clichés about Mexico.

Jalisco Film Fund invested “almost $1 million” in “Mr. Pig.”

That not only complements Mexican federal finance lines, tapped by Mexican productions, but on some movies can close the financing gap, Cruz said.

Sometimes dubbed Mexico’s Silicon Valley, Guadalajara is a high-tech and animation hub. Grossing $9.1 million, making it the fourth-biggest foreign-language hit in the U.S. this decade, the Pantelion-distributed “Un Gallo con Muchos Huevos,” the third installment of the Mexican animation franchise, was almost entirely animated out of Jalisco, said Guzman Salas.

Animated features can also apply for JFF funding. Mexico produces about 130 films a year. Home to Mexican traditions – mariachi, tequila, for example – Jalisco is also Mexico’s granary and the biggest new-job creation hub in the country, per Lamas Flores.

“Jalisco is one of the best partners Canana has ever had. It offers a proximity to Mexico City, which is very convenient for filming. Guadalajara is a cosmopolitan city. The state offers everything: Sea, desert, mountains, jungle,” said Canana’s Cruz from Sundance.

He went on: “One of its singularities is that, apart from the fund’s incentives, locations and talent support, Jalisco is able to supply a near full crew. You have great location managers, great electricians: You have to bring very few people from Mexico City,”

A “love letter to our parents” turning on “the time when we as children must be the ones to say goodbye” to them, per Luna, “Mr. Pig” co-stars Maya Rudolph (“Saturday Night Live”) as Eubanks’ daughter Eunice. Grounding the screenplay in experience, Luna and co-scribe Augusto Mendoza only included in the film Jalisco characters and locations they met on a recce to research the script. Eubanks’ road-trip of discovery inevitably mirrors his emotional journey as he rediscovers his daughter, friends and life’s priorities.

The Jalisco Film Fund launched at the end of 2014. In 2015, in its first year of operations, it also invested in Jaliscan Fernando Lebrija’s “Sundown,” a romantic comedy. In 2016, it will invest up to Pesos8 million ($434,000) in a Mexican movie.

U.S. producers can voice security concerns about shooting in Mexico. In reality, as Guzman Salas pointed out, it is the Latin American country that welcomes the highest number of foreign shoots. Recent examples: “Spectre,” “Sundown” (which shot in Jalisco’s Puerto Vallarta), “Mr. Pig,” “Sicario,” “Einsenstein in Guanajuato,” and of TV series “Empire Falls,” “Mozart in the Jungle,” and “Sense8.”

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