AFM: Canana Adapts ‘Savage Detectives’ (EXCLUSIVE)

‘Chosen Ones’ David Pablos to direct Roberto Bolaño’s massive novel of poet-rebels in ‘70s Mexico

Canana, one of the most important film producers in Latin America, is set to adapt one of the most important literary properties in Latin America, Roberto Bolaño’s towering “The Savage Detectives,” for many, the modern Latin American novel.

As it turns 10, this is the most ambitious project which the Mexico City and L.A-based Canana, founded by Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna and Pablo Cruz, has ever taken on, and one, by far, of the biggest in scope now coming out of Latin America.

Mexican David Pablos, whose “The Chosen Ones” played to acclaim at Cannes 2015 Un Certain Regard, is attached to direct. Deal for the adaptation was negotiated by Cruz, with Bolaño’s widow, Carolina Lopez.

Published in 1998, in a final decade of feverish creativity from Chile’s Bolaño, who died in 2003 at the age of 50, “The Savage Detectives” is told in three parts. In a first, set in Mexico City in 1975, Juan Garcia Madero, a 17-year-old Mexican orphan, joins a gang of poet rebels, the “visceral realists,” who want to tear down Latin America’s literary establishment; some 50 narrators in book’s second, core section narrate the fate of the group’s members from 1976 to 1996; third part, narrated by Garcia Madero again, relates the central event that changed everybody’s lives.

Cruz and Pablos are currently developing an early treatment. Such is the book’s complexity, Cruz said, that “we do not want to tie ourselves down to a specific format, most probably it will be a film in several parts, maybe a two-hour film, even a mini-series.” Its focus, however, is clear: “This is a beautiful book that deals with people that want to change things, change the establishment. This is what the film wants to center on.”

Written in a kinetic vital style, “Savage Detectives” focuses not on the group’s poetry but their lives, sex, creation, the desire to leave a legacy, “the story from day one of coming of age and becoming an artist,” Cruz said, adding that, given Bolaño’s following across Latin America and in the U.S. , it would be natural to structure the film as a pan-American co-production, including the U.S.

The adaptation will retain Bolano’s kinetic style, said Pablos. It will be made in Spanish. Calling the book a “hyperbole for youth at large,” Pablos said that “The Savage Detectives” is about “the awakening of a group of young people who want to change the course of Latin American poetry. But they failed terribly. They all end up forgotten.”




Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Rita And Tom Hanks Coronavirus

    Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson Return to U.S. After Coronavirus Diagnosis in Australia

    Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson are back home in the U.S. after they revealed they had contracted coronavirus and were quarantined in Australia. Hanks gave an update on Twitter Saturday morning, thanking everyone who had helped them in Australia and assuring people that they are still isolating themselves in the U.S. “Hey, folks…We’re home now [...]

  • Film Comment Magazine Goes on Hiatus

    Film Comment Magazine to Go on Hiatus as Film at Lincoln Center Lays Off Half of Staff

    Many companies are being financially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, and the Film at Lincoln Center is the latest organization to have to lay off employees and pause some of their operations. On Friday, executive director Lesli Klainberg released a memo announcing that the center had to furlough or lay off about half of its [...]

  • "Birds of Prey" egg sandwich

    'Birds of Prey' Actor Bruno Oliver Recreates Harley Quinn's Famous Sandwich

    When actor Bruno Oliver booked the role of short order cook Sal in “Birds of Prey: (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn),” he had no idea how significant Sal and his breakfast sandwich were to the story. “You couldn’t tell from the audition necessarily and as actors, we always worry about our scenes [...]

  • Minyan

    'Minyan': Film Review

    Best known for the unexpectedly soul-shattering San Francisco suicide doc “The Bridge,” indie filmmaker Eric Steel came out and came of age in 1980s New York at a moment just before AIDS devastated the city’s gay community. Such timing must have been surreal, to assume something so liberating about one’s own identity, only to watch [...]

  • Animated Movie 'The Queen's Corgi' Fetches

    Film New Roundup: Animated Movie 'The Queen's Corgi' Fetches North American Distribution

    In today’s film news roundup, “The Queen’s Corgi” finds a home, the Overlook Film Festival is postponed and the California Film Commission adjusts its tax credit rules due to the coronavirus. ACQUISITION Freestyle Digital Media has acquired North American rights to the animated family comedy feature “The Queen’s Corgi,” and plans to make it available on DVD and to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content