Mantarraya Preps Reygadas’ ‘Life,’ Shoots Escalante’s ‘Untamed’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Also has ‘Angel,’ ‘Maquinaria Panamericana,’ ‘Pacifico’ in pipeline

Amat Escalante, Carlos Reygadas y JaimeRomandia
Copyright: Chris Alan/Picture Perfect/BEI/REX Shutterstock

MADRID – Backing two of Latin America’s most admired auteurs, Mexico’s Mantarraya, France’s Le Pacte and Germany’s The Match Factory are teaming to produce “Donde nace la vida” (“Where Life is Born”) the highly anticipated next film by Carlos Reygadas (“Japan,” “Battle in Heaven”), as they shoot “Untamed,” from Amat Escalante (“Heli”).

Released in 2002, Reygadas’ anti-conventional “Japan” brought down the flag on a new generation of Mexican filmmakers. Reygadas’ “Silent Light” shared a Cannes jury prize in 2007, his “Post Tenebras Lux” Cannes best director in 2012, Escalante’s Heli” taking the same award a year later.

Also co-producing a new animation film, “The Angel in the Clock,” “Maquinaria Panamericana,” and producing “Pacifico” Mantarraya currently has one of its fullest slates in its 17 years of existence.

“Where Life Begins” is “a simple but powerful story of love and loss of love, in open couple relationships, emotional phases on the downfall set in the context of Mexico’s fighting bull-breeding ranches.” Movie will shoot in the state of Tlaxcala, renowned for its fighting bull ranches, Mantarraya producer-partner Jaime Romandia told Variety.

Co-produced with Nodream Cinema, Reygadas’ production label, “Life,” Reygadas’ fifth feature, all collaborations with Mantarraya, will begin to shoot early 2016, aiming to be ready for delivery by the end of 2016, he added.

Per Romandia, “All Carlos Reygadas’ films are different in their narrative form and this will be no exception.”

Reygadas will work with cinematographer Diego Garcia, who lensed Apichatpong Weerasethakal’s “Love in Khon Kaen” and Yulene Olaizola’s “Fogo.”

A step-up and departure for Escalante, “Untamed” is a social/sci fi movie about machismo, homophobia and the repression of women that is now in the seventh of a nine-week shoot, rolling in Escalante’s home city of Guanajuato.

Written by Escalante, “The Untamed” begins with a meteorite crashing into a mountain. In a nearby town on the lowlands, a young couple struggles to find themselves, with the man cheating on the woman. But they destroy each other in the process. Then something out of this world comes, changing their lives.

A wide-ranging co-production structure allows “Untamed” to not only source multiple foreign funds but creative input from highly talented key craft, Romandia said.

“Untamed” is lead-produced by Mantarraya, tapping equity coin from Mexico’s Foprocine film fund, Jean Labadie’s Le Pacte, Michael Weber’s The Match Factory and German pubcaster ZDF , Norway’s Merfilms, and Katrin Pors at Denmark’s SnowGlobe Films.

Norway’s SorFond, the Danish Film Institute and Copenhagen Film Fund also support the production. Danish DP Manuel Alberto Claro and Peter Hjorth, cinematographer and VFX supervisor respectively on Lars von Trier’s “Melancholia” and “Nymphomaniac,” serves the same roles on “The Untamed.”

“My films are very social, I like to use real people, real locations, deal with situations in Mexico, because that’s what I’m close to. But here I wanted to mix things up, challenge myself, to search for a larger metaphor to express my views,” Escalante told Variety, announcing “The Untamed” at Cannes.

Producers aim to have the film ready for delivery by May 2016.

Based out of Mexico City, Fotosintesis, a cause-driven entertainment company co-founded by Mantarraya and Miguel Uriegas, is now two months into production on its pilot project, 2D animated feature “The Angel in the Clock,” fore-fronting child cancer.

Paris-based NDM, the sales company launched by Reygadas Romandia and Fiorella Moretti, has acquired world sales rights to “Maquinaria Panamericana” (“Pan-American Machinery”), from Mexican scribe-helmer Joaquin de Paso which, now in post-production and also a Mantarraya co-production, he presented at August’s 1st Locarno Fest Industry Days Match Me! De Paso’s feature debut, “Machinery” chronicles the flailing attempts of an elderly workforce to save their bankrupt company from liquidation.

Another feature debut, Fernanda Romandia’s documentary “Pacifico,” which will be finished by year-end, chronicles the construction of a hose on a beach in Oaxaca, and the relations between a seven year-old girl, her godfather, who works on the site, and a carpenter, who the girl would like to be her godfather too.