The Paradigm Talent Agency has signed Mexico’s Emiliano Rocha Minter, screenwriter-director of “Tenemos la carne” (We Are the Flesh), a Mexican movie that is quickly acquiring cult status after its Feb. 2 world premiere at the Rotterdam Festival and endorsement by fellow Mexican cineastes Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu, Alfonso Cuaron and Carlos Reygadas.
L.A.-based production-management company Benderspink has also signed on as his manager. Paradigm’s representation deal comes only three weeks after it moved smartly to ink Maria Evoli, the Mexican actress star of “We Are the Flesh.”
Not since Reygadas’ 2002 “Japan” has a Mexican feature debut attracted so much attention, though that’s currently limited to Rotterdam audiences and cognoscenti who have seen the film.
“Flesh” is set in a seemingly post-apocalypse world, where a teen sister (Fauna, played by Evoli) and brother (Diego Gamaliel) stumble on a grotesque but charismatic man who seems to make a living grinding human flesh into slush and offers them food if they convert his building into a womb-like cave. There, he cajoles and coerces them to abandon inhibitions, slake their lusts and break taboos in acts of incest, bloodlust, rape, murder, onanism and cannibalism.
“We Are the Flesh” is a nonjudgmental “affirmation of life in all its senses, including what’s disturbing and absurd, its violence, sexuality, comedy,” Rocha Minter said.
He added: “I was very interested in the concept of the Cave – that’s a uterus and at the same time a skull — a return to animality, composing characters that would stop being ‘characters,’ but return to a much more primal state.”
Rocha Minter calls “Flesh” an allegory of sorts of Mexico through different times, although it’s essentially a portrait of the human condition, once morality has gone out the window.
Produced by Julio Chavezmontes’ production-distribution company Piano, with Moises Cosio’s Detalle Films, whose credits include Alejandro Jodorowsky’s “The Dance of Reality” and Atom Egoyan’s “Remember,” plus France’s director-producer Yann Gonzalez (“You and the Night”), “We Are the Flesh” is associate produced by Reygadas’ post-production facility Splendor Omnia, located in the hills outside Mexico City. Iñarritu committed to talking up the title on his Mexico promotion tour for “The Revenant,” telling Mexican newspaper Reforma that “We Are the Flesh “is a very personal, very powerful film that deeply impressed me. Emiliano Rocha is part of a new generation [of filmmakers] with a potent talent and voice.”
“I loved this film. ‘Tenemos la Carne’ takes over our waking thoughts, like a recurring dream we try to forget, because we are fearful of finding out it may be a memory,” Cuaron wrote in a quote to support the film.
“Tenemos la Carne” was financed by equity investment and Mexico’s Imcine Film Institute, though suggesting the artistic liberty that Mexico’s youngest wave currently thrives on, and Rocha Minter’s next may be markedly different; his film passions, suggested in a thank you to J.J Abrams in the credit roll, run a far larger gamut than the painstakingly planned huit clos of “We Are the Flesh,” from Zulawaski to J.J. Abrams – “I loved ‘Lost,’ how one mystery opens a new one” – France’s Georges Bataille, “Gremlins” and Mexican comedian Cantinflas.
Rocha Minter is currently writing a new screenplay of an “fun, absurdist horror chase-adventure movie” that is “half Billy Wilder, with a bit of ‘The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari,’ ‘After Hours’ and Apocalypse Now.’”
“We Are the Flesh” snagged a sales agent in the run-up to Rotterdam — Paris-based Reel Suspects. It is very likely to appear, in some guise, at a major festival in the not-too-distant future.
Emiliano Granada contributed to this article.