LOS CABOS – Marcelo Tobar’s “Man by Man,” Max Zunino’s “Jumble” and Alejandra Márquez Abella’s “Easter” are among the first winners at Los Cabos, scooping three of its nine Gabriel Figueroa Film Fund grants, worth $139,000 in total.
Prizes were announced Wednesday night at the opening gala of the 3rd Los Cabos Festival, unspooling in Cabo San Lucas through Sunday, and graced by Reese Witherspoon, who presented opening night pic “Wild.”
As Hollywood’s eyes turn ever more to Mexico, with a Mexican debut, Eugenio Derbez’s “Instructions Not Included,” and Mexican Sebastian del Amo’s second feature, “Cantinflas,” rating as the highest-grossing foreign-language films in the U.S. in 2013 and 2014 – Los Cabos’ Gabriel Figueroa fund awards form one of four new talent platforms launched by Los Cabos.
Tenoch Huerta (“Days of Grace,” “Güeros”), one of Mexico’s fast rising stars, toplines “Easter,” about a young widow (Anajosé Andrete) holidaying on the beach with her son and the new man in her life (Huerta). The experience transforms their relationship.
“’Easter’ is about family formulae, about not doing things as you’re told you have to,” Marquez said at Los Cabos. Screening Friday in Los Cabos, “Easter’s” GFFF post-pro services grant, worth $52,000 in services from Labo Digital, reps a lion’s share of pic’s budget.
“In ‘Easter,’ we set out to make a quality film, but on a low budget, in order to finance quickly with no strings attached,” said producer Nicolas Celis, at Pimienta Films. “Easter” applied, but at a low range, for Mexican tax coin, winning $150,000 from tax scheme Efecine, he added.
Efecine ceiling per film is $1.5 million. Afterwards, the project has grown, with U.S producer Jim Stark boarding as an exec producer.
Based out of Cacerola Films, vet Mexican producer Laura Imperiale (“Of Love and Other Demons,” “Nora’s Will”) will co-produce Maz Zunino’s “Jumble,” a contempo Uruguay-set redemption tale from Zunino, whose debut, “Open Cage,” won prizes at Guadalajara, Ventana Sur and Montreal. “Jumble” turns on a man who returns to Uruguay after 30’ years exile to expiate his remorse at having accidentally killed a soldier. It won best project prize at the Talents section of March’s Guadalajara Festival, and was one of two Mexican projects chosen for the Torino Film Lab in a tie-up with Mexico’s Guanajuato Fest. Producers aim to structure “Jumble” as a Latin American co-pro, Zunino said.
Tobar’s follow-up to the critically praised “Asteroid,” which world premiered at the Miami Festival, “Man By Man” turns on a lonely French-Canadian farmer, living in an isolated rural town, who travels to Mexico City to buy intimacy with a young homeless kid.
Presented for the first time at Los Cabos, “Man by Man” “is about abuse. The two characters are so alike that the relationship becomes dangerous for both of them,” Tobar said in Los Cabos. Zensky Cine’s Elsa Reyes (“Workers”) produces.
A secondGFFF post-production winner, “El charro de Toluquilla,” also plays in Los Cabos’ Work in Progress –Mexico. José Villalobos Romero’s first docu-feature, “Charro” turns on a mariachi singer, split between a fantasy world, his struggle with AIDs, and love for his little daughter.
Fernando Frias, director of “I’m No Longer Here,” a GFFF development grant recipient, will also pitch the project at Los Cabos’ Co-production Forum. It tracks a Mexico teen forced to migrate to New York City. He discovers he has exchanged the violence of Mexico for the alienation of New York.
Further titles pulling down development coin are: Spaniard Chema Rodriguez’s social drama “Seven Hours,” pitched to an upbeat reception at June’s Small is Biutiful in Paris, then chosen for San Sebastian’s Europe-Latin American Co-production Forum; Astrid Romero’s “The Darkest Days of Us,” about a woman haunted by her sister’s death when she was a child; and two documentaries: Jose Alvarez’s “Songs of “Land and Sea,” a portrait of a native Nahua shaman, and Viviana Garcia Besne’s” Shadow Collectors,” about her attempts to save a priceless collection of classic Mexican films from destruction.
Diana Karklin at Rise and Shine World Sales, Tribeca Film Institute’s Ryan Harrington and Laurie Mackenzie at the Atlantic Film Festival’s Strategic Partners comprised the jury.
An exhibition at Los Cabos of Gabriel Figueroa’s work pays tribute to the great Mexican cinematographer, d.p. on John Ford’s “The Fugitive” (1947), Luis Buñuel’s “The Young and the Damned” (1950) and Nazarin (1959), and John Huston’s “The Night of the Iguana” (1964), which earned him an Oscar nomination , plus Huston’s “Under the Volcano” (1984).