LOS CABOS, Mexico — A mix of traditional pre-colonial and modern, urban-infused storytelling, Julio Hernández Cordón’s “Neza” pitches at this week’s Los Cabos Festival Works in Development, where the filmmaker’s most recent film “Buy Me a Gun” – Director’s Fortnight and San Sebastian Horizontes Latinos competitor – is in competition.
Born in North Carolina but educated at Mexico’s CCC, Hernández has positioned himself as one of Mexico and Mesoamerica’s most solid filmmakers. In 2007 his feature “Gasolina” won the Filmsin Progress award at San Sebastian and a year later topped the festival’s Horizontes Latinos competition. Since that time, he has pumped out critical and festival acclaimed films regularly, including “Atrás hay relámpagos” – a participant at Rotterdam – and the aforementioned “Buy Me a Gun.”
“Neza” is a modern tale with pre-Spanish roots. It’s the story of a pair of betrayals which become too much for the titular character to bear. First, he murders his best friend to be with the woman he loves, and years later must condone the killing of his own son as a means of maintaining peace in their neighborhood where Neza acts as a community leader, organizing cumbia-fueled street parties.
“This film is a tribute to the place where I grew up: Texcoco, Mexico,” said Hernández. “It revolves around the people who lived and continue to inhabit this suburb of Mexico City. The central inspiration for ‘Neza’ is the biography of the poet King Nezahualcóyotl who was the ruler of Texcoco in the pre-Hispanic era.”
“Neza” is produced by one of Mexico’s hottest indie production houses, Woo Films, founded and led by María José Córdova, Rafael Ley and Rodrigo S. González. The trio also produced “Buy Me a Gun,” as well as Natalia Beristain’s Luxbox-sold “The Eternal Feminine” (“Los Adioses”), a player at Rome and Morelia last year, and “No quiero dormer sola,” a 2012 Venice Critics’ Week selection; Kyzza Terrazas’ “Bayoneta” which participated at Morelia two weeks ago, and “El lenguaje de los machetes,” another Venice Critics Week selection; and “The Good Girls,” from Alejandra Márquez which played in this year’s prestigious Toronto Platform section.
The script for “Neza” was completed with support from the Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg artist-in-residence program and also took part in the Morelia-Sundance Story Lab last year and this year’s Berlinale Co-production Market. The film’s team is in Los Cabos looking to close out the final stage of financing as well as securing possible co-producers, sales and distribution. Shooting is scheduled for July 2019.