Cannes: Mundial Takes Diego Luna’s ‘Chavez’ (EXCLUSIVE)

IM Global-Canana company to introduce labor leader portrait at Cannes

MADRID — Mundial, the six-month-old Mexico-based sales-financing venture teaming Hollywood’s IM Global and Mexico’s Canana, has acquired international rights to “Chavez,” actor-turned-director Diego Luna’s portrait of Cesar E. Chavez, a legendary ‘60s U.S. civil rights leader.

Jeff Skoll’s Participant Media took U.S. distribution rights last June.

Since “Chavez” was lead-produced by Canana, the Mexico City-L.A. production shingle founded by Luna, Gael Garcia Bernal and Pablo Cruz, it was always in the cards that Mundial would end up selling “Chavez” internationally.

Following on Mundial’s acquisition earlier this week of “Libertador,” a biopic of 19th-century independence fighter Simon Bolivar, reportedly budgeted at north of $50 million, the Chavez pickup gives Mundial two of the biggest movies, both in post-production, from Latin American directors this year.

A second international rights pickup announced Friday, crime thriller “Mexico’s Most Wanted,” which is produced by top Mexico shingle Lemon Films, signals Mundial’s intention to sell Latin America’s most ambitious and high-profile productions, from in and outside Mexico.

Canana first full attempt to crack the U.S. Hispanic market, “Chavez” is produced by Cruz and exec-produced by John Malkovich, Russell Smith and Lianne Halfon at Mr. Mudd, Participant Media’s Skoll and Jonathan King, Larry Meli and “Chavez” writer Keir Pearson, Academy Award nommed for “Hotel Rwanda.”

Luna’s English-language debut, “Chavez” turns on the Mexican-American labor leader’s attempts to organize California farm workers into the United Farm Workers union. Michael Pena plays Chavez, America Ferrera his wife, Helen Chavez, and Rosario Dawson Dolores Huerta, who co-founded the UFW.

Starring Tenoch Huerta (“Days of Grace”) as Galeana, a spectacularly successful bank robber by day and masked mariachi player by night, “Mexico’s Most Wanted” is produced by Fernando Rovzar and Billy Rovzar, who, in movies such as “Saving Private Perez,” have developed a house style at Lemon that grafts U.S.-style movie pace and action with Mexican realities.

Like Canana, a company that has championed a new generation of helming talent in Mexico, Mundial will also sell the second features by two of the most multi-prized of recent breakout directors: “The Well,” a tale of childhood innocence lost from Mexico-based Michael Rowe, who won Cannes Camera d’Or with “Leap Year” in 2010; the big city love story-come-comedy “Paradise,” from Mariana Chenillo (“Nora’s Will”).

Helmed by Marc Silver and a Sundance 2013 cinematography winner, “Who Is Dayani Cristal?” — an investigative U.S.-Mexico border documentary with Gael Garcia Bernal — screens at Cannes.

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