The Match Factory Rolls Out First Sales on Amat Escalante’s ‘The Untamed’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Venice best director winner prefers a metaphor for a conflicted contemporary Mexico

The Untamed La region salvaje Venice
Courtesy of Venice Film Festival

Germany’s The Match Factory, one of Europe’s premier arthouse sales agents, has rolled out first international sales on one of Mexico’s key fall titles, Amat Escalante’s “La region salvaje” (The Untamed), a Venice best director winner.

In early dealings, London-based Arrow Films has acquired U.K. rights to Escalante’s fourth feature, his follow-up to “Heli,” for which he won a best director award at the 2013 Cannes Festival.

Marking further sales, Madman has acquired Australia/New Zealand. The Match Factory has also closed Benelux (Cineart), CIS territories (Cinema Prestige), Taiwan (Cineplex) and former-Yugoslavia markets (MCF Megacom). Michael Webber’s sales company is in negotiations for several more territory sales, with interest from Japan and North America, said The Match Factory sources.

Jean Labadie’s Le Pacte , one of France’s key distributors for art-house and crossover fare, will open “The Untamed” theatrically in France. Cinepolis, Mexico’s biggest exhibition chain which also runs a distribution operation, will release “The Untamed” in Escalante’s native Mexico.

World-premiering in Venice, “The Untamed” was structured as a six-country international co-production led by Jaime Romania’s Mexico City-based Mantarraya Productions and including, among others, France’s Le Pacte and The Match Factory. Written by Escalante and Gibran Portela, whose credits include two of the most admired recent Mexican debuts – Diego Quemada-Diez’s “The Golden Cage” and Alonso Ruizpalacios’ “Gueros” – “The Untamed” sees Escalante scaling up in budget and VFX, supplied by Lars Von Trier collaborator Peter Hjorth, and also branching out.

He maintains his hallmark social realism in his portrait of a young mother battling male chauvinism, misogyny and homophobia in Mexico’s provinces. But he adds a sci-fi element in a mysterious multi-tentacled creature which promises sexual pleasure to those who submit to it.

Set in a Mexico where women are murdered near-daily, the creature’s presence in “The Untamed” creates a metaphor for  contemporary Mexico, its violence and brutal rejection of sexuality, Escalante has said in interviews from Venice onwards.

“The Untamed” has been generally well-reviewed, scoring an initial 78% on Rotten Tomatoes. Its warmest reception to date may have been among fanboys and fangirls at Austin’s Fantastic Fest, said The Match Factory. On Saturday, “The Untamed” won a (largely) Mexican critics’ Premio Guerrero at Mexico’s Morelia Festival for best feature. It is also the biggest Mexican title at Los Cabos Festival, where it plays in competition in one week’s time.