Alejandro Springall to Direct ‘Sonora,’ in Talks With China Film Group

John Sayles co-penning; Bertha Navarro of Tequila Gang producing

Producer-helmer-scribe Alejandro Springall is set to go behind the cameras once more with his long-gestating road movie that could be the first Latin American pic to be distributed in China.

Springall is in talks with the China Film Group for a possible theatrical release in the hermetic country.

“China currently allows an average 26 foreign titles a year, but the market is expected to open up next year,” said Springall who has visited the country. Producer Bertha Navarro, a partner of Guillermo del Toro in Tequila Gang, estimates the budget will fall under $3 million.

Best known for his acclaimed cross-border dramedy, “Santitos,” in 1999, the last feature Springall directed was the 2010 Eugenio Derbez romcom “No eres tu, soy yo.”

“I rarely direct features, but this project greatly appeals to me,” said Springall, who admits he is a history buff.  Titled “Sonora,” the drama is based on the story “La Ruta de los Caidos” by historian Guillermo Munro Palacio, about a motley group of migrants who crossed the world’s second driest desert (after Death Valley), the Sonora. It is set during the Great Depression in 1931 when the roads between Mexico and the U.S. were closed off to Mexicans and foreigners, and Chinese were being expelled from the state of Sonora by an over-zealous, xenophobic governor. In their flight to the Baja California peninsula, the group of Chinese and Mexicans traverse the lunar landscape of the Sonora desert on a 1928 Ford Model A.

“The movie becomes an exploration of human passions: Racism, avarice, greed, egoism, which turn out to be more treacherous than the desert,” said Springall, who co-penned the screenplay with John Sayles. “This would be the seventh movie we’ve collaborated on,” he said. Edher Campos and Luis Salinas of Machete Prods. will serve as line producers. Both are presenting their Machete productions, “X Quinientos” and “La Habitation,” at Los Cabos.

The “Sonora” cast includes Joaquin Cosio (“The Strain,” “Quantum of Solace”), Juan Manuel Bernal (“Perfect Obedience”) and a cast of Chinese and American actors, yet to be selected.

Plans are to shoot in March and April when it is coolest, with most of the story to be filmed at Pinacate, renowned for its fields of black lava and lunar landscape.

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