Canana Options Alfredo Corchado’s ‘Midnight in Mexico’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Book a true-life thriller about a journalist sentenced to death by Mexico’s Zetas


Plunging once more into Mexico’s heart of darkness — its rampant drug cartel-fuelled extortion, torture, corruption and daily murders which have left 80,000 dead — Mexico and L.A.-based Canana has optioned big-screen rights to Alfredo Corchado’s “Midnight in Mexico: A Reporter’s Journey Through a Country’s Descent into Darkness.”

Canana founder and partner Pablo Cruz will produce the movie makeover for Canana, one of Latin America’s top independent production-distribution companies, which was founded by Cruz, Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna.

The Mexico Bureau Chief of the Dallas Morning News and a Nieman 2009 Fellow at Harvard, Corchado wrote “Midnight in Mexico” from dramatic personal experience. Covering Mexico’s drug wars, he has suffered four death threats. One came from the Zetas, the para-military death squads split off from the Gulf Cartel. On that occasion, racing a 24-hour-stay-of-execution, Corchado set off into the Mexican country to try to trace down the source of his death sentence.

Rights for “Midnight in Mexico” were optioned just before Mexico’s Guadalajara Book Fair, where movie deals are escalating. “Midnight” will be spoken mostly in English, with Spanish for characters living in Mexico.

The memoir “has all the elements of a fantastic thriller, it is highly poignant and turns on a great central character, a journalist who thinks he’s going to get killed, has to find out if it’s true and if it is, when his execution is going to  happen,” Cruz told Variety.

“Midnight” weaves reportage with reminiscence: Corchado father immigrated to the U.S. in the ‘60s to work in the fields of California’s San Joaquin Valley, allowing Corchado an informed perspective on bi-national relations, a first-hand point of view on the experience of living on both sides of the borders and to argue that Mexico’s huge problem of drug cartel violence is America’s as well.

An eavesdrop on what is Mexico seen through the eyes of an American journalist who works as the Mexican correspondent, ‘Midnight in Mexico’ also “explores the notion of the two Mexicos, which is fascinating to a lot of people, the Mexico you know and also that of the Mexicans who live in the U.S. and are discovering its reality,” Cruz said.

In 40 years time, one in three people living in the U.S. will claim Hispanic ancestry.

Said Cruz: “The increasingly emergent Latino population in the U.S. signals a call to action for greater communication and collaboration between the two countries. This film will highlight that need during a critical time for U.S.-Mexico relations,” Cruz added.

Cruz also produced for Canana Gerardo Naranjo’s Fox Intl. Productions co-produced and co-sold “Miss Bala,” plus the upcoming “Chavez,” the English-language directorial debut of Diego Luna, about legendary U.S. labor rights activist Cesar Chavez, which is sold by Mundial, a Canana/IM Global joint venture, and co-financed by Participant Media.

Like “Chavez,” “Midnight” natural demo target is the U.S. and Mexico, plus international markets beyond.