LOS CABOS – Mexican-Uruguayan director Rodrigo Pla (“The Zone,” “Revolution,” “The Delay”), and wife and screenwriter Laura Santullo, two of the leading lights of Mexico’s new wave, has two new films in the pipeline: “A Thousand-Headed Monster,” now in post, and “The Other Tom,” his English-language debut.
Teaming with producer partner Sandino Saravai Vinay, in production operations that now straddle Mexico, Uruguay and Brazil, Pla and Saravai’s Uruguay-based Malbicho Cine is also co-producing “Bull Down!” It marks the second feature by Brazil’s Gabriel Mascaro whose debut, “Autumn Winds,” is proving one of 2014’s festival sleepers.
Both “Monster” and “Tom” are set up at Buenaventura, Pla and Saravai’s Mexico City label, with Saravai producing,
Now in post after a low-profile shoot, and skedded for a 2015 release, “Monster” is a mix that is becoming increasingly common in Latin American cinema and indeed beyond: a movie that combines social issues – the abuse of corporations, and an entertainment driven thriller format.
Written by Laura Santullo, adapting her own novel, it centers on a woman who, forced into a corner by a corrupt and negligent insurance company, takes desperate measures to obtain the treatment her husband needs. Jara Raluy (“Capadocia”) and Sebastian Aguirre, “Güeros’” protagonist, star. “Monster” has shot in Mexico City financed by Efecine Mexican tax coin and support from Fidecine, a Mexico Film Institute film aid scheme for quality titles with some commercial potential.
Presented at Los Cabos’ 1st Mexico-U.S.-Canada Co-production Forum, and one of its buzz projects, and oncemore written by Santullo, “The Other Tom” centers on Tom, aged eight, who has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD),according to his psychiatrist and tells his mother. Megan,that the only cure is to be found at he drugstore. Facing a potential custody battle, mother and son set off across the U.S. to see a specialist who questions the diagnosis. That road trip produces reconciliation between mother and son.
Pla and Saravai Vinay imagine setting up “Tom” as a U.S.-Mexico co-production, the latter said.
Pla imagines the journey beginning in the mountains, ending at the sea, he said. The film frames a larger picture, “We came to make this film simply because we’re parents. These days it’s almost impossible to be one and remain oblivious to the myriad of syndromes and mental disorders our children are diagnosed with, based exclusively on their behavior,” Santullo and Plá said.
They continued: “To deal with this epidemic,’ more and more teachers are demanding that their students be put on psychiatric drugs and more and more doctors are prescribing them as if they were handing out candy, but more and more parents, too, are throwing in the towel when it comes to raising and educating their children and end up medicating them out of convenience, ignorance or sheer desperation.
Malbicho Cine has teamed with Brazil’s Desvia Filmes and Netherlands’ Viking Films to produce “Bull Down!” Now in post, and a step-up in scale for Mascaro, Saravai Vinay said, the rodeo-world-set aspirational drama was shot in the arid landscapes of Brazil’s North East Pernambuco region, unspooling against the background of the region’s rapid economic development. It turns on a stable-lad who dreams of becoming a fashion designer. The title’s expression refers to one rodeo challenge where cowboys prove their valor throwing a bull to the ground by its tail, said Saravai Vinay, who produces with Desvia’s Rachel Ellis, and Vikings’ Marlene Slot produce. Celebrated Uruguayan producer Fernando Epstein is editing.
A winner of the bilateral Brazil-Uruguay co-production fund, “Bull Down!” is supported by Brazil’s ANCINE Film-TV board, Uruguay’s ICAU agency, the Netherlands’ Hubert Bals Plus and Funcultura Pernambuco, a regional film fund, “Bull Down!” was shot March-April in Pernambuco and Paraiba.