“Y Tu Mama tambien” producer Jorge Vergara, who co-founded Anhelo Prods. with Alfonso Cuaron, is boarding the drama “Bonded” from Aliwen Entertainment, the new Santa Monica-based shingle founded by Lucas Akoskin (“Nightingale,” “Captive,” “Desierto”) last year.
“Bonded” marks the return to film producing of Vergara who last backed the 2004 crime drama “The Assassination of Richard Nixon.”
Shooting this fall in Guadalajara, Mexico City and Los Angeles, “Bonded” is based on true events about the sweatshops of Los Angeles. Casting is underway for the mostly English-language drama about a Mexican teenager whose dreams of becoming a soccer star are disrupted when his mother dies. He’s smuggled across the border with the promise of a better life but is instead sold to a sweatshop in downtown LA.
With a budget projected for under $5 million, “Bonded” is the directorial debut of producer-scribe Mohit Ramchandani. Project was previously set up at Irish Dreamtime, Pierce Brosnan’s and the late Beau St. Claire’s shingle.
“Sadly, the story is more fact than fiction as bonded labor is a real-world problem in 2017, and it’s not just happening in Africa and Asia but right here in California, in the backyard of the seventh largest economy in the world,” said Ramchandani, who penned the screenplay.
“Given the current political climate, I believe that the film is not only timely, but also necessary to raise awareness of our role in this vicious phenomenon,” he added.
Akoskin and Anhelo’s Jorge and Amaury Vergara serve as producers while Luke Daniels and Alan Pao of Tunnel are executive producers.
“‘Bonded’ perfectly represents the company’s vision in making socially relevant films that not only entertain but also inspire audiences alike,” said Vergara, a Guadalajara-based billionaire whose personal interests align with the project. Vergara owns the prominent soccer club, Chivas De Guadalajara.
Aliwen, which means ‘strong tree’ in the Chilean indigenous language of Mapuche, has a slew of film and TV projects in the pipeline.
Among the TV projects are a comedy series based on 2007 comedy “The Doorman” and a thriller drama series based on novel “El filo de la piel” by Chile’s Jose Ignacio Valenzuela.
Movies in the pipeline include the untitled Tina Modotti film by Argentina’s Lucia Puenzo, Iranian director Bahman Ghobadi’s next project, and “King Without a Crown,” the story of Reggie star Matisyahu penned by Tommy Swerdlow (“Cool Runnings”) and to be directed by Kevin Asch (“Holy Rollers”).
Christian de Gallegos of Ambassador Film Group will be pre-selling “Bonded” at Cannes.