Los Cabos: Gaston Pavlovich’s Fabrica de Cine Moves into High-End TV with ‘Antonieta’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Mini-series depicts the life, achievements and singularity in 1920s México of the dazzling Antonieta Rivas Mercado

Gaston Pavlovich
Michael Lewis for Variety

LOS CABOS, Mexico — Fabrica de Cine, the Mexican production house of Martin Scorsese producer Gastón Pavlovich (“Silence,” “The Irishman,” “Sun Dogs”) is moving into high-end TV initiating development on miniseries “Antonieta,” a portrait of the life of Antonieta Rivas Mercado, a pioneering intellectual, writer, arts patron and women’s rights activist during 1920’s Mexico, one of the most vibrant periods in its history.

“This will be one of the most signifiant, relevant films coming out of Mexico for the world,” Pavlovich said.

The entry into TV, though of cinematographic standard, comes as Pavlovich confirmed he was in talks with European producers to create partnerships. With Fabrica de Cine in Mexico and the U.S., this will allow us to have more sensibility about what we should do” in local markets and international co-production, he explained.

Pavlovich also has a first-look agreement to co-produce “La caída” (Dive), a feature project directed by David Pablos, originated by Karla Souza and produced by Souza and Ana Laura Rascón, which is one of the buzz projects at Los Cabos films in development industry section.

Inspired by a true story, “Dive” depicts multiple cases of sexual abuse in Mexico’s high-board diving team, analyzing both the power framework which facilitated such a scenario – the delegation of absolution neo-parental authority in one person, a trainer – and the protagonist’s struggle to even recognize that she has been the victim of sexual abuse.

“This is a very firm first look. I definitely want to be inside this project,” Pavlovich said at Los Cabos, adding that “Dive” will show “so many angles of these situations. We will dig in deep into what really happens.”

A four-to-five part miniseries, Pavlovich said at Los Cabos – where he co-presented Jennifer Morrison’s well-received “Sun Dogs,” which he produced – “Antonieta” is envisaged as a Spanish, English – Rivas Mercado married an American – and French-language mini-series squarely made for the international market.

Pavlovich aims to complete development and package “Antonieta” then court a partner, “more from the U.S. side,” he said. The series has the support of Rivas Mercado’s family, which is contributing to its development.

“We have some significant attachments already. This will have a high level of production. We believe that, on a high quality film like this made for the world market, there will be a way to put it together,” Pavlovich said at Los Cabos.

The daughter of celebrated Mexican architect Antonio Rivas Mercado, whose works include Mexico City’s Angel de la Independencia, Rivas Mercado co-financed the Teatro Ulises, edited books, wrote for Spanish periodical “El Sol,” and was involved in the launch of the Mexico City Symphonic Orchestra.

Headstrong, a maverick, elegant and cosmopolitan, but prone to depression and unrequited love affairs, she fell in love with politician and ideolog José Vasconcelos, whose rejection led her to take his pistol and, aged 30, commit suicide before the altar of Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral.

“Antonieta Rivas Mercado was a very important, brilliant, creative and influential figure in Mexican culture and politics, who also lived in New York, and wrote Vasconcelos’ speeches and designed his strategy when he ran for president,” Pavlovich said. “Her life serves as an inspiration,” he added.

Fabrica de Cine has also put into development two comedies, the body-swap situational farce “Ponte en mi lugar,” and “Y yo que te deseo a morir.” Directors on the projects are currently being cast. Fully developed and packaged by Fabrica de Cine, the comedies will move into production from the beginning of 2018.

Screenplays again have been written by Fabrica’s writers room.

Fabrica’s move into TV takes place as select bionovelas – Disney’s “Until I Met You,” Colombia’s “La Diosa” – are scoring big ratings in the region. Pavlovich conceives the series, however, as a Golden Age story, capturing Mexico as a time of its renaissance, and for “worldwide in a big way.”

Latin America is also a priority region for Netflix, which is  involved in over 50 titles in Latin America, between Netflix originals and branded early acquisitions, Ted Sarandos said this August in Mexico City. Other platforms seeking to take on Netflix in Latin America will have to achieve like scale in the region.

“Antonieta’s” budget is likely to be way above the par for Latin American series, for free-to-air and pay TV equally.

TV forms part of an expansion at Fabrica de Cine. It will continue to produce in the U.S., Pavlovich said. In departures, it will also develop partnerships with companies in Europe, ramp-up a remakes business and target local production in territories round the world.

Pavlovich concluded: “I see Fábrica de Cine as a company that knows no boundaries. There are lots of countries whose box office performance for local production is outstanding. Then there is the presence of Netflix and Amazon. We should embrace this.”

He added that he aims to make every year one or two tentpole films from the U.S. for the international market, in the line of “The Irishman.”