‘Tempestad’s’ Tatiana Huezo Adapts ‘Prayers for the Stolen’ for Fiction Debut, ‘Noche de Fuego’ (EXCLUSIVE)

News comes as ‘Tempestad’ vie for foreign-language Oscar nomination and is nominated for an International Emmy

Nicolas Celis and Tatiana Huezo
Martin Dale / Nicolas Celis

Director of “Tempestad,” Mexico’s foreign-language Oscar submission, Tatiana Huezo, already one of Mexico’s most distinguished women filmmakers, will make her fiction feature debut, “Noche de fuego,” adapting Jennifer Clement’s “Prayers for the Stolen.”

One of the most buzzed-up projects at Morelia’s Sundance Lab, “Noche de fuego” is produced by Nicolas Celis and Jim Jarmusch collaborator Jim Stark (“Down By Law”) and is set up at Celis’ Pimienta Films, producer of Huezo’s docu-feature debut “The Tiniest Place” and “Tempestad,” and also a lead-producer on Alfonso Cuarón’s upcoming Spanish-language movie “Roma,” and a co-producer on “Pájaros del verano,” also in post, from Academy Award-nominated Colombian Ciro Guerra (“Embrace of the Serpent”).

“Tempestad” is also nominated for an International Emmy Award and is Mexico’s candidate for next February’s 32nd Spanish Academy Goya Awards, where it has currently made the last-16 longlist for Best Ibero-American Film.

El Salvador-born, but Mexico-based, Huezo’s debut, 2011’s “The Tiniest Place” was described by Variety as “sublime.” “Tempestad” also underscored Huezo’s ability to enhance testimony and emotions by images of the highest artistic order, migrating her film towards the border between documentary and fictional construct.

That expertise in a dock-fiction mix looks likely to stand her in good stead for her fiction debut. Clement’s “Prayers for the Stolen,” though a fictional novel packs a large neo-documentary punch in its researched, insider’s track tale as it narrates the story, told from her point of view, of a young girl who is abducted  into Mexico’s drug trade.  “The social history – the reality of the world from which the fiction comes – burns away anything on the pages that could feel ‘made-up,’ U.K. newspaper The Guardian said in a review of the book.

“Noche de fuego’s” logline is “life in a town at war seen through the eyes of three young girls on the path to adolescence,” Celis said. Huezo has said that she will use a mix of professional and non-professional actors.

“This will be an ambitious project, larger-scale than Tatiana’s documentaries,” Celis said, adding that he aimed to finance “Noche de fuego” out of Mexico via Efecine tax finance, and, at a later phase in the project, when Mexican moneys are tied down, reach out to to potential international co-production partners.

But “Noche de fuego” will have elements that are Huezo hallmarks.  “In, for example, the recreation of ‘Tempestad,’ Tatiana already used elements of fiction. But she will bring to ‘Noche de fuego’ her in-depth research and development process which comes I think from the documentary school,” Celis said.

“Noche de Fuego” is, indeed, tentatively scheduled to shoot at the end of 2018, a timeline which ensures considerable and caring development. It promises to be, like “Tempestad,” “poetic, very forceful, entertaining and compelling for audiences,” Celis added.

Having made its development lab debut at Morelia, “Noche de fuego” will segue to Los Cabos Festival where it will compete for Gabriel Figueroa Film Fund financing, won by “Tempestad.” It has also been invited to the Up and Coming Program of the prestigious Torino Film Lab, a development initiative and, indirectly, talent showcase.