Colombian drama wows local auds

'Rosario' on track to be top-grossing local pic of the year

BOGOTA — Long-awaited Colombian pic “Rosario Tijeras” is on track to become one of the biggest local releases of all time here.

Already the biggest opening in Colombia in 2005, the Rio Negro Prods. pic has grossed 7 billion pesos ($2.9 million) in its first month. It is second only to “Madagascar,” this year’s top-grossing pic with $3.4 million.

Set in Medellin in 1989, during the infamous period of drug cartels, “Rosario Tijeras” tells the story of a friendship between two high-society teenage boys and Rosario, a femme assassin who roams the streets and discos of the violent city.

The story is based on the bestselling book of the same name by Colombian writer Jorge Franco. Helmer Emilio Maille read the book in 2003, and was enthralled; he suggested working on a film to Mexican producer Matthias Ehrenberg.

Pic is the debut feature for France-based Mexican documentary filmmaker Maille and was produced by Rio Negro Prods. with financial backing from Colombia, Mexico, Brazil and Spain.

Argentine screenwriter Marcelo Figueras worked on the script.

Ehrenberg likes to think of the project as a “pan-Latin” effort.

Basque actor Unax Ugarde, who plays the role of one of Rosario’s suitors, says the pic represented the “new Latin American cinema: European aesthetics mixed with South American reality.”

Munir Falah, CEO of distrib CineColombia, thinks admissions will hit the 1 million mark in the next few weeks, which would make it the top-grossing local pic in 2005.

According to Falah, this year has seen a 15% drop in Colombian B.O. over 2004. “This is for two reasons: The product has not been as good as last year, and piracy. ‘Rosario Tijeras,’ for example, was available within days on DVD.”

Rio Negro is currently negotiating distribution rights for the $3.5 million pic in the U.S.