Madrid-based sales company Latido Films, which has Argentine Oscar entry “The Distinguished Citizen” at Karlovy Vary in Variety Critics Choice, is representing worldwide sales rights to dramatic comedy “Ayúdame a pasar la noche” (Help Me Make It Through the Night), the feature debut of Mexican director José Ramón Chávez Delgado.
Written by Claudia Sainte-Luce (“The Amazing Catfish”), and executive produced by Karina Blanco (“The Formula of Doctor Funes”), the film centers on a family at breaking point: Dad has kicked out Mom because of her gambling habits; the eldest scion’s fiancee wants to cancel their wedding, though the youngest son believes he can fix his family and bring it back together. An accident might just prove its salvation.
Co-produced in Mexico by public-sector film school Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica (CCC), a deep new talent well, and Mexican Film Institute Imcine via its Foprocine fund, CCC alum Chávez Delgado’s opera prima won the Mezcal Prize audience award – the key award when it comes to signalling distribution potential – for best Mexican feature at March’s Guadalajara Film Festival.
“Help Me Make It” marks the twenty-third feature debut set up at the Mexico City-based CCC, which has helped launch the careers of Carlos Carrera, Jorge Michel Grau, Emilio Portes and David Pablos. CCC shorts won the Student Oscar Award twice, as well as a 2007 Cannes’ Palme d’Or.
“‘Help Me Make it Through the Night’s’ fidelity to a long tradition of dark humor makes it one of the few films where we see, filtered through humor, the reality of Mexico’s urban middle class,” said Antonio Saura, executive director of Latido Films.
He added: “For a while, it seemed that middle class urbanites had disappeared from Mexican life and stories, but this film is a wonderful, sad, funny portrayal.”
Latido’s world sales acquisition marks its latest incursion into Mexican filmmaking where it has picked up such titles as road movie “The Thin Yellow Line,” a gentle dramedy about male camaraderie and search for respect marking the feature debut of Mexico’s Celso Garcia and produced by Guillermo del Toro; “Bleak Street,” a stark but tender b/w crime fable from Mexican master Arturo Ripstein; and Julio Hernandez Colon’s stylish gay love story “I Promise You Anarchy,” set against an alternative Mexico City youth culture.
“Mexico has one of the most powerful cinematographies and is an incredible cradle for new talent,” said Saura, adding that “we are witnessing the growth and expansion of a country with an incredible amount of stories to tell, due to its present and past history. The combination of both makes for a perfect breeding ground for great films and filmmakers.”
Having clinched a deal for German theatrical distribution with Cine Global, in its latest major territory sale, Latido has now sold “The Distinguished Citizen” “practically for the whole world and theatrically in most territories,” Saura reported.
Karlovy Vary’s Variety Critics’ Choice selection marks the latest distinction for a title which won lead Oscar Martinez the Venice Festival’s best actor Volpi Cup last September, earned $3.4 million in Argentina, becoming the third-biggest national hit of the year, was chosen as Argentina’s Oscar submission, and snagged a Spanish Academy Goya this year for Best Ibero-American Film.
All of which has allowed “The Distinguished Citizen” to grow in stature becoming the biggest international breakout for its co-directors Gaston Duprat and Mariano Cohn.
Written by Andrés Duprat, it turns on a Nobel Prize winning novelist who, after four decades of absence, decides to visit his in-the-sticks home town in Argentina. It greats him as a homecoming hero, only to turn on him when people bother to read what he has written and realize that the novelist’s satire of his home town has fueled his writing for decades.
“His return provides not only humor, but poignant insights into such themes as the burden of success, lost ideals, and whether artists truly give back to the communities they’ve creatively mined for decades,” Jay Weissberg wrote in Variety.
The movie also records a populist backlash against a member of the liberal classes which has gained far greater international resonance since “The Distinguished Citizen” was conceived.