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‘Puddle,’ ‘Morphable,’ ‘Yamaha’ at Raindance’s Focus on Mexico (EXCLUSIVE)

Forum of the London indie film fest selects eight Mexican feature projects

Jack Zagha’s “A Useless Puddle,” Jonathan Ostos Yaber’s “The Morphable Man” and Jorge Michel Grau’s “Yamaha 300” figure among feature projects chosen to form part of Focus on Mexico. The co-production forum has been launched by London’s Raindance Film Festival in partnership with Mexico’s Guadalajara Intl. Film Fest and Variety.

Running Sept. 30-Oct.1, Focus on Mexico aims to strengthen networking between the British and Mexican film industries, and develop financial, business and investment opportunities to co-produce films among both countries.

Focus on Mexico will also feature guest speakers such as Oscar-nominated writer Guillermo Arriaga (“Babel”), Elliot Grove and Ivan Trujillo, directors of Raindance and FICG, respectively.

Jack Zagha, whose dark comedy “Goodbye Cruel World” won best narrative feature at 2010 Austin Film Fest and was acquired by HBO in the U.S., will present at the forum “A Useless Puddle,” a social drama on a teacher in crisis, who has been assaulted at school and doesn’t want to return to teaching, although he agrees to give individual lessons to a peculiar young boy.

Produced by Yossi Zagha at Mexico’s Avanti Pictures and penned by Spain’s David Desola, co-writer of Zagha’s feature “One for the Road,” “Useless Puddle” is in an early development stage.

Since film takes place in a northern town of the United States, producers will be looking at the forum for a small city with cold weather and, they argue, there are many options in the U.K. that fit the description.

Fantasy comedy project “The Morphable Man,” the feature debut of Jonathan Ostos Yaber, teams Mexican outfits Linterna and Red Elephant with U.S.-based Morphable Studios.

The film turns on Adio, a young Mexican who lives in Austin Texas and works as a copy editor of a music magazine. The use of antidepressants makes him transform into random objects, depending on his emotional state. One day, searching for new musical talent, Adio meets mysterious singer Sophie.

Ready for pre-production, project has attached Dario Yazbek Bernal (“Daniel & Ana”) to play the leading role, Malli Arts’ Pablo Calvillo (“Mad Max: Fury Road”) serves as VFX producer and supervisor and Rodolfo Romero (“Amores Perros”) as sound designer and mixer.

Producers have also teamed with Gibson Brands. They aim to shoot during the Austin SXSW fest.

Presenting at London the Miami-set thriller project “Yamaha 300” Mexican writer-director Jorge Michel Grau debuted in 2010 with cannibal family drama “We Are What We Are,” a Wild Bunch pickup for international, considered by critics as a high point in recent Latin American genre filmmaking.

In “Yamaha” Grau adapts the same-titled stage play by Mexico’s Cuberto Lopez, on two drug mules waiting for hours on a small boat at open sea for a plane to throw them a cocaine consignment, knowing that only one of them will survive.

Produced by Mexico’s Velarium Arts, run by Grau and Mayra Espinosa Castro, project has already received grant finance from the Good Film Fund, a joint initiative of Canada’s Media Darling and the Chattanooga Film Fest.

Inspired by the 2008 dramatic rescue of Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, Kevin de la Isla O’Neill’s sophomore pic, Los Angeles-set “Next of Kin,” portrays a young Californian kidnap victim who struggles to adjust to life.

“Deprivya,” a sci-fi thriller set in the 1960’s about six individuals that enter the first sleep deprivation experiment, marks scribe-helmer Isaac Ezban new project, produced by his long-time partner Miriam Mercado at Red Elephant.

Repped by Paradigm Talent Agency, Ezban’s previous pics “The Incident” and “The Similars” are seen as elevated psychological sci-fi movies that established him as a distinctive voice on the Hispanic auteur genre scene.

Produced by Larque Films, Montserrat Larque’s feature debut project “Over There” is a romantic comedy set in the Mexico’s hamlet of Omitlan. On fundraising status, project won support in 2013 for script writing from the Imcine Mexican film institute.

Drama “In Times of Rain,” the first feature from Mexico’s Itandehui Jansen, intercuts several stories around Soledad, a traditional healer that lives in an indigenous community in the south of Mexico with her five-year old grandson Jose. Project has a finished script.

In development, Alejandro Gonzalez Padilla’s ecological family drama “Beyond Heritage,” produced by Marca Producciones and Emporio Films, will continue at Raindance the search of international co-producers, having assured support from Mexican state tax break initiative Eficine.

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