Celebrating the world premiere Friday night at the Sundance Festival of Jose Manuel Cravioto’s “Reversal,” a film whose origins trace back to its 2013 event, Mexico’s Los Cabos Intl. Film Festival, one of Latin America’s fastest-growing fests, has set dates for its fourth edition: Nov. 11-15.
The slot retains Los Cabos advantageous post-American Film Market berth. “Our industry strategy has always benefited from our closeness to the American Film Market. It allows many of our key guests to participate in Los Cabos following business there,” said Los Cabos director Alonso Aguilar Castillo.
He added: “After the AFM, which can be very demanding for many executives, Los Cabos offers an inviting environment, with many business contacts being made over lunch in front of the beach or at parties.”
Aguilar Castillo signaled that Los Cabos would “definitely” maintain its U.S.-Mexico-Canada Co-production Forum, launched in 2014, along with its Work in Progress Mexico pix-in-post industry section.
“The two events allow us to be associated from an early stage with a considerable number of films, and to keep working on them, recommending them to festival programmers and other forums.”
Also to continue: Los Cabos’ Gabriel Figueroa Film Fund, whose grants, worth a total $139,000 in 2014, target Mexican films in post-production and pre-production, again highlighting upcoming Mexican movies of possible note.
Launched 2012, and enthusiastically supported by influential industry player such as CAA’s Micah Green and AG Studios’ Alex Garcia, plus Canada’s Telefilm Canada, Los Cabos has grown in synch with the dramatic success of very select Mexican movies in the U.S. and Mexico – Eugenio Derbez’s “Instructions Not Included” grossed $90.6 million in these two markets – which has powered up Hollywood interest in Mexican cinema and filmmakers.
“An MPAA study suggests the Hispanic demographic is the biggest growth demographic among moviegoers in the U.S.,” said Nick LoPiccolo, at Paradigm, one key in “Reversal” coming together.
Emerging market industries are also building muscle. Mexico produced 126 movies in 2013, its biggest result since 1959, Imcibe Mexican Film Institute director Jorge Sanchez said at the Guadalajara Fest presentation of 2013 stats. The average budget climbed to 22.2 million pesos ($1.7 million) as private finance – which financed 41 films in 2013 – flows into the sector, attracted by tax breaks.
As a clutch of local films punch ever more consistent high box office grosses – Spain’s top two movies in 2014, “Spanish Affair” and “El Niño,”grossed nearly three times the Spanish box office gross of the top two U.S. blockbusters – that Hollywood interest extends to local industries around much of the world.
“Los Cabos is a great place to discover new filmmakers. It’s not just the number of agents who attend but also the number of festival programmers,” said LoPiccolo.
Los Cabos attracted some 300 industry execs last year.
But, said LoPiccolo, “If you run into the 20-25 people you need to know, that’s a good film market. All the biggest Mexican producers are there, Alex Garcia, Billy Rovzar from Lemon Films, Daniel Posada from Dark Factory. It’s an intimate environment to get to know people in their home territory.”
Attending all Los Cabos’ three editions, LoPiccolo caught Jose Manuel Cravioto’s “El mas buscado” (aka “Mexico’s most Wanted”) at 2013’s Los Cabos. An action-thriller about Mexico’s most celebrated bank-robber, it was produced by another of his clients, Daniel Posada. Impressed, he signed up Cravioto a few weeks later.
“In terms of filmmakers, you look for voices and films that can translate universally. Cravioto is going to be at the top of that next wave of young Mexicans filmmakers that emerge out of that market, said LoPiccolo, noting that Cravioto studied at Mexico City’s CUEC film school, like Alfonso Cuaron and d.p. Emmanuel Lubezki.
Produced by Daniel Posada for Dark Factory Ent., plus AG Studios’ Alex Garcia, and with Paradigm repping U.S. rights, “Reversal” plays Sundance’s Park City at Midnight section. Cravioto’s English-language debut, it turns on Eve (Tina Ivlev, “Major Crimes.” “The Devil’s in the Details”), who fights back and manages to escape a malicious abductor. However, after discovering she may not be the only victim, Eve unravels a darker truth and decides to turn the tables on her captor. Richard Tyson and Bianca Malinowski co-star.
“Reversal” is “a female-driven revenge thriller,” LoPiccolo said, but “Its hard to compare to anything I’ve seen. It’s fresh, fairly unique, Cravioto takes genre and makes it his own.
The Sundance world premiere also marks part of a drive by Dark Factory, which moved operations to Los Angeles in 2013, to produce English-language features, shooting in the U.S. or Mexico. At year-end 2014, Dark Factory wrapped its second English-language feature, a musical comedy, “One Shot” starring Topher Grace and Anne Heche.
“The frontiers are breaking down, such as the idea that if you’re going to shoot in the U.S. you have to do that with an American company,” Cravioto commented.
“Times are changing. Before, young Mexican directors went to Hollywood and waited for an opportunity. Now, it’s a question of finding the right people to work with, like Daniel Posada for ‘Reversal,’ Alexis Fridman with ‘El mas buscado’, not looking to pursue a career in any one specific place, whether Mexico or the U..S., accessing the best projects and pouring my soul into them.”
Cravioto’s Paradigm deal, which helped forge “Reversal,” “is one token of the work we’ve been carrying over the past few years,” added Aguilar Castillo. As Los Cabos builds for its fourth edition, more fest-inspired deals will no doubt follow.