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Rhayuela, Alex Garcia Team On ‘Devil’s Breath’

Pic is one of the latest additions to Colombia’s burgeoning genre production

BOGOTA – Bogota-based Rhayuela Cine, whose war/horror pic “El Paramo” has been optioned for a U.S. remake by Scott Lastaiti, is working with Alex Garcia’s Itaca Films in Mexico to develop “Devil’s Breath,” one of the latest high-profile additions to Colombia’s increasingly sought-after genre movie cannon.

Devil’s Breath” also looks set to be the English-language debut for Rhayuela, one of Colombia’s top film production shingles.

Partnership with the L.A. and Mexico-based Garcia, the producer of “The Jesuit” who launched BN Films with $150 million financing in December, continues a burgeoning film-by-film alliance between Rhayuela and Garcia’s Itaca which is also co-producing Rhayuela’s transmedia hip-hop franchise “Buenaventura Mon Amour.”

Latam Distribution, Garcia’s new sales and distribution company for Latin America and the U.S. Hispanic market, has a first-option deal on all Rhayuela-Garcia co-productions.

“Devil’s Breath’s” exact plot is under wraps. But, set in Latin America, the social-issue genre movie does feature the titular “Devil’s Breath” or scopolamine, which is derived from Colombia’s borrachero tree, deprives victims of free will, and is described as the most dangerous drug in the world.

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Rhayuela producer Steven Grisales describes “Devil’s Breath” as “a social environmental horror film” attacking “modern slavery, the destruction of nature, what money means in today’s society.”

“Paramo” co-writer Diego Vivanco, a Colombia-based Argentinean, will deliver a first-draft screenplay at the end of July.

To helm, Rhayuela Cine is looking to attach “a rising star among Latin American genre directors,” Grisales said.

Cast will mix U.S. and Latin American actors, the main role being played by an A-list Hollywood thesp, he added.

Also on Rhayula Cine’s 2013-14 slate, Paramo director Jaime Osorio is attached to write and direct social drama “Asylum,” a romantic relationship between a teen girl and boy, both social outcasts, in a city building up to a riot.

Rhayuela is looking to structure “Asylum”, which Grisales describes as in the line of “La Haine” and “A Prophet,” as a European co-production.

Set on the hip-hop scene in Buenaventura, Colombia’s biggest port and a poverty trap, Jose Luis Rugeles’ “Buanaventura Mon Amour” is about music, dancing, youth, and social development, art overcoming violence,” per Grisales.

“Buenaventura” won the Reed Midem Award for best Latin American Transmedia Format at 2012’s Rio Content Lab, was one of four project winners at the Guadalajara’s 9th Ibero-American Co-production Meeting, this March, and selected for the Cannes Market’s Cross Media Corner in May.

Rhayuela is currently assembling a Colombian team to finish “Buenaventura’s” production bible, which will define brand strategy and integration, transmedia narratives and technology, Grisales said.

Rhayuela next production, however, will be socio-politico drama “Alias Maria,” also from scribe-helmer Rugeles, which is skedded to roll Jan. 2014.

Based on interviews with girls and women who have fled the war in Colombia, “Maria” turns on a 13-year-old guerrilla soldier girl who discovers she’s pregnant. She considers escape, to keep the baby.

“The film depicts not only Colombia child military conscription, the world’s fifth worst case, but also the life of girls in Colombia’s war, who are condemned to early sex lives, abuse, pregnancies and abortions,” said Rhayuela producer Federico Duran.

“Alias Maria” is backed by broadcaster Caracol TV and major distribution-exhibition company Cine Colombia.
France’s Axxon Films and Argentina’s Sudestada Cine produce.

Grisales summed up: “We’re trying to change the stereotypes of what kinds of film we’re supposed to make in Latin America, which tend so often towards what could be called “porno-misery,” which is expected by many festival funds.

Rhayuela’s mantra, in contrast, is “entertainment that matters,” Grisales insisted.

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