GUADALAJARA, Mexico — Chile’s Francisco Reyes, who plays opposite trans actor Daniela Vega in Sebastian Lelio’s 2018 best foreign-language Oscar winner, “A Fantastic Woman,” has boarded the Mexican-Chilean-U.S. co-production, “Martinez,” which won the Tribeca Film Institute Canacine prize at Guadalajara’s Co-Prod Meet on March 13.
“Martinez” marks the directorial feature debut of Guadalajara native Lorena Padilla, a Tisch School of the Arts/NYU alum, who also penned the drama. Previously titled “Cuerpos Celestes,” the screenplay has participated in Berlinale Talents ’09, Torino Film Lab ’10, and the 2011 Cine Qua Non Lab.
Reyes plays the titular Martinez, an embittered Chilean in his sixties who has lived in Mexico for the past 40 years and is being forced to retire from his job. As he struggles with life changes, a neighbor suddenly dies and as he sifts through her diary and her things, he begins to live vicariously through her and find new meaning in life.
“The story of Martinez attracted me on both an existential and emotional plane,” said Reyes, adding: “Here’s an old man who faces loneliness, death and the mystery of love; in essence he’s every inhabitant of any Latin American city.”
Humberto Busto (“El Chapo,” “Oso Polar”) who plays the young man set to replace Martinez at his desk job, concurred: “It deals with the universal themes of identity, memory, and self-deception; a slice of life drama which Latin America does so well.”
“I lived away from Mexico for the past 10 years, so the story reflects the feeling of loneliness and nostalgia that anyone who has lived away from home feels,” said Padilla who said it was a struggle to find the right actor for the role but once Chile’s Alejo Crisostomo of Ceibita Films boarded the project and suggested Reyes, Padilla knew she had found her “Martinez.”
The co-production between L.A.-based Off-Hollywood Films, Ceibita Films and Mexico’s Monofilms, is now participating at Guadalajara’s co-production meet where producer Georgina Gonzalez of Off-Hollywood Films is on the lookout for more financing, distribution and co-production opportunities. Principal photography in Guadalajara for the $500,000-budgeted drama is slated for next year.
Meanwhile, Padilla is teaming up with “Martinez” production designer Sofia Carrillo, renowned for her award-winning stop-motion animated shorts, to develop a TV series together. A coming-of-age tale based on Carrillo’s life, the series will feature a combination of live action and animation.