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Machete ramps up slate

Camera d'Or-winning shingle sets three pics

Mexico City– Pyramide Intl. continues to land key territorial sales with Michael Rowe’s Mexican drama “Leap Year” still riding high on its Camera d’Or success, all the better for “Leap” shingle Machete Producciones as it heads into three new projects.

According to Machete producers Edher Campos and Rodrigo Bello, interest raised by the film’s success has helped funding efforts for upcoming projects including: “Nos vemos, papa” (See You, Dad) — an Elektra-complex drama helmed by “Leap” co-scribe Lucia Carreras and topped by Cecilia Suarez (“Blue Eyelids”); “La Habitacion” (The Room) — an eight-part omnibus historical drama.

“Nos vemos” is set to begin shooting this fall and should wrap before 2010. Machete is applying for funding from government art coin program Foprocine, which is aimed at arthouse fare, but it faces heavy competition for funding surrounding this year’s celebrations of the Independence Bicentennial and 100-year anniversary of the Mexico Revolution.

That said, Campos stressed the production team used by “Leap” is ready to go, and casting is locked in place. The producers are already looking ahead to the much larger undertaking of “La Habitacion.” Funding for that pic is already at 30 million pesos ($2.4 million) and has already received a guarantee of federal funding from the government’s commercial pic-backer, Fidecine.

“La Habitacion” is essentially an eight-act play using a room in downtown Mexico as the common stage as it follows the families and drama of 100 years.

Not all the helmers have been confirmed, but Campos gave a partial lineup that includes Carlos Bolado, who directed Brazil’s “Solo Dios sabe” and Patricia Arriaga (sister of multihyphenate Guillermo).

Campos and Bello began Machete in August 2008 along with Teresa Ruiz and Luis Salinas.

“Leap Year” — about a suicidal woman abandoning herself to sex — is set for a September release in Mexico, distributed by Canana Films, the shingle-cum-distrib founded by thesps Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal. High percentages must be paid to exhibitors, whose strong commitment to Hollywood fare makes distribution for Mexican film a brutal game built carefully around timing and strategy, so “Leap Year” will start with just 15 copies.

Campos expressed his hope that “Leap’s” success could help boost interest in Mexico cinema domestically.

“When a Mexican film wins abroad, we all win,” said Campos.

The Cannes prizewinner first opened in France in late June via Pyramide with 50 copies to moderate success despite its harsh images of sexuality and violence and is still in limited play, according to Campos.

Strand has picked up the film for the U.S. and is considering unspooling it around January. Spain’s Golem will likely bow “Leap” in October.

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