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Raindance: Mexico’s Jorge Michel Grau Readies ‘7:19’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Suspense drama set around 1985 earthquake

LONDON: Mexico’s Jorge Michel Grau (“Somos lo que hay”), a seminal humanistic voice on Latin America0’s genre auteur scene, is readying “7:19,” a suspense drama with social dimensions set around Mexico City’s 1985 earthquake, the most destructive in Mexican history.

Lead produced by Velarium Arts, the Mexico City label which Grau runs with producer partner Mayra Espinosa Castro, “7:19” will star international actors who speaks Spanish, Espinosa Castro said at London’s Raindance Fest where she presented “Yamaha 300,” a Grau project, at its Focus on Mexico Co-production Forum.

Scheduled to shoot from Oct. 19, “7:19” is exec-produced by Daniel Birman Ripstein’s at Alameda Films (“The Crime of Father Amaro”), and co-produced by “Instructions Not Included” producer Monica Lozano who will distribute in Mexico via her new Alebrije Distribution shingle, the distribution arm of production label Alebrije Cine y Video. AD also has rights to Latin America.

One of Grau’s main contribution to Mexico cinema – in a practice dating back at least to Guillermo del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth” – has been to bring a humanist sensibility to genre.

In “Somos lo que hay,” Grau explored family dynamics via a cannibal film. A suspense drama, “7:19” he will plumb one of Mexico’s main banes – and a subject of memorable films: think Alfonso Cuaron’s “Y tu mama también” – the country’s social divides. Written by Grau and Mexican novelist Alberto Chimal, it turns on a politician, Martin Soriano, and a humble night watchman, Fernando Pellicer, caught in the lobby of a building where they work when nine storeys of a building crash down on them. The story takes place over Sept. 19 as alive, but buried under concrete and twisted metal, they have only each other as they face death, moving from fear to anger on the road to resignation.

“Martin Soriano and Fernando Pellicer live in different universes but destiny forces them to face death together. Now, more than ever, they will have to bring down the borders that divide them,” Jorge Michel Grau has written.

“It’s the story of two different social classes, trapped in the same place at the same time. It’s a very claustrophobic. But about breaking social barriers, the idea of social class,” Mayra Espinosa Castro added, saying that Velarium Arts is talking to sales agents.

Jorge Michel Grau is currently constructing a set on a soundstage at Mexico City’s famed Estudios Churrubusco. Registering a magnitude of 8.o, the Sept. 19 earthquake killed at least 5,000 people, per estimates.

Adapting the same-titled stage play by Mexico’s Cuberto Lopez, “Yamaha 300,” a Miami-set thriller, turns on two drug mules waiting for hours on a small boat at open sea for a plane to throw them a cocaine consignment. They both know that only one of them will survive. Grau has called the project “the deepest and darkest exploration I’ve done in my career. A one-way trip to the most aged of man’s passions: Envy.”

Sold by Wild Bunch, “Somos lo que hay,” was remade by Jim Mickle into 2013 Sundance hit “We Are What We Are.”

Grau is represented by Paradigm Talent Agency.

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