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Jalisco Up Next! — Celso García to Caress ‘Velvet’

Guadalajara's helmer took jury, audience kudos at 2015 Guadalajara Fest

On-the-rise Mexican helmer Celso Garcia is prepping “Velvet,” his follow-up to “The Thin Yellow Line,” produced by Guillermo Del Toro and Bertha Navarro, Del Toro’s partner at Mexco’s Tequila Gang, as well as Alejandro Springall.

Velvet” is inspired by the life of Mexican Julia Pastrana, who was born in 1834 with a rare illness, hypertrichosis — popularly known as “werewolf syndrome” — consisting of  abnormal, disproportionate hair growth over the entire body. No taller than five feet, Pastrana was called “the ugliest woman in the world,” traveled as a freak attraction throughout the U.S., and had a “tragic, intense and exciting life,” in García’s words.

“Velvet” will be structured as a Mexican-U.S. co-production, international talent, per Garcia. To be released in Mexico on July 1, “Line’s” international sales are handled by Madrid-based Latido Films.

“Line” took the Ibero-American feature Jury Prize and Audience Award for a Mexican feature at Mexico’s 2015 Guadalajara Fest. “Line’s” 14 international awards so far include best screenplay and the Jury Award at Spain’s Gijón Fest, a Glauber Rocha kudo and Bronze Zenith at Montreal, and the Grand Newcomer Award at Germany’s Mannheim-Heidelberg. “A movingly thesped, bittersweet tale…. Although it may seem overly familiar to arthouse buyers, there’s no denying it is a crowd-pleaser,” ran a Variety review.

“Line’s” key cast featured veteran Mexican thesps Damián Alcazar, Joaquín Cosío, Silveiro Palacios, Gustavo Sánchez Parra, Fernando Becerril and newcomer Américo Hollander. It is inspired by a car trip García took between Guadalajara and San Juan de Potosí. It’s a road movie that tells a minimal men-centric story: “A group of five men are hired to paint the dividing line of a 200-kilometer (124 miles) stretch of narrow road that links lost villages in old Mexico,” said García. He added: “It’s a brotherhood, companionship story of hard-working men. Five characters who at some point of their past lost a sense of their lives’ direction. This commission becomes the perfect chance to recover that forgotten course or initiate a new one.” And the thin line becomes a graphic metaphor of this emotional path.

“Line” took seven years to be made, García explained. “Fortunately we have support and funds in Mexico to raise money for projects. It’s true that this is never enough, but it’s also true that without them it would have been impossible to shoot the 140 features which were made last year,” García argued.

Born in Ciudad de México, he now lives in Guadalajara. He has directed five shorts –including “Pata de gallo” and “Protestosterona.” The latest, “La leche y el agua,” nabbed more than 22 international awards. García also directed commercials and has his own production company, Lunch Films.

García said that he felt proud of having connected a “line” with so different audiences  “My aim is to keep making character-driven stories, intimate close-up tales, from a personal and honest premise.”

García is managed by Larry Robinson at L.A.-based Avatar Entertainment.

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