×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Lila Aviles’ ‘The Chambermaid’ Set for Toronto, San Sebastian; Drops Trailer, Poster (EXCLUSIVE)

Sold by Alpha Violet, Mexican Lila Avilés first feature forms part of a new wave of women directors forging Mexico’s cinema

MADRID — In a strong year for Mexican cinema – think Sebastián Hofmann’s “Time Share,” Alfonso Ruizpalacios’ “Museo” – the world premiere at Venice of the latest films by two of Mexico’s biggest names – Alfonso Cuarón and Carlos Reygadas – shouldn’t distract from another narrative: the ever increasing number of movies by Mexican women directors hitting major festivals, scoring deals and winning post-production plaudits.

“The Good Girls,” from Alejandra Marquez Abella (“Semana Santa”), selected for Toronto Platform, has just been picked up by Luxbox.

Now Lila Avilés’ “The Chambermaid” (“La camarista”), one of the most-awaited of Mexico’s feature film debuts, made the Toronto Discovery cut, announced Tuesday, after already being selected for the New Directors’ competition at later-September’s San Sebastian Festival in Spain. Variety has had exclusive access to its first trailer and poster, dropped by sales agent Alpha Violet, which suggests the film’s tenor and charm.

A winningly grounded fiction film, it follows Eve, a chambermaid, on her daily grind around Mexico City’s Hotel Presidente Internacional, a high-rise glass tower with wooden paneled walls interiors which director Avilés calls a kind of “high-class prison.”

Popular on Variety

The film’s near-documentary attention to detail mixes however with a humanistic vision – which Los Cabos and Ventana Sur audiences found touching – of the search for identity of a young woman who seems invisible to some clients, is already a mother, but not yet her own person.

The Chambermaid” is produced by Limerencia, Avilés and Tatiana Graullera’s Mexico-based company, Foprocine, a investment line at Mexico’s Imcine film agency, Shalson at Bad Boy Billy Production, L.A-based producers Jana Diaz-Juhl and Pau Brunet, and Bambú Audiovisual.

Avilés found the key into the film befriending chambermaids at the Hotel Presidente and, following them about their work. “By understanding their humanity, I was able to discover my own point of view as an artist,” Avilés says.

At one disarming point in the film, Eve lets drop that she has to travel nearly two hours just to get to work.

Enrolling in the hotel’s adult education program, befriending a co-worker, wondering at the capricious hotel guests’ belongings, tentatively exploring her sexual attraction, putting in punishingly long hours – she has to take showers just to stay awake, hard-working Eve dreams of promotion at the hotel. She has no contact in the hotel hierarchy, but her determination to better her lot, and sense of self, grows.

“While I was filming, I couldn’t stop thinking about the working class, all that great labor force. Mexico is not only about violence and drug trafficking, there are also a lot of people who work non-stop to have a better way of life for them and their families,” Avilés observes in a director’s statement.

Though it is never on the nose, “The Chambermaid” builds as a compassionate tribute to Mexico’s anonymous laboring classes.

Actress Gabriela Cartol (“I Dream in Another Language”) plays Eve in a performance likely to catch attention as the film travels the festival circuit.

Written by Avilés and Juan Carlos Márquez, “The Chambermaid” hits Toronto and San Sebastián with notable industry pedigree, having scored prizes and industry deals throughout its post-production. First seen in Mexico at November’s Los Cabos Festival’s Gabriel Figueroa Work in Progress competition, where it scooped a Labo Award, “The Chambermaid” was the first film to see investment from a new fund set up by Shalson’s Bad Boy Billy and Brunet and Diaz-Juh, who boarded as co-producers. “The Chambermaid” was among the biggest winners at December’s Ventana Sur Primer Corte pix-in-post showcase. Paris-based Alpha Violet swooped on the title, acquiring international sales rights, soon afterwards.

More Film

  • Kirby Dick Amy Ziering

    'On The Record,' Russell Simmons #MeToo Doc, Charts Course to Sundance After Oprah Exit

    Update: A spokesperson for Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering says the filmmaking team will participate in print and broadcast interviews at the Sundance film festival. The accusers featured in the film are weighing press options at this time. Earlier, a spokesperson for the film “On The Record” confirmed to Variety that only photo calls would [...]

  • Ariel Winograd'TOD@S CAEN' film premiere, Los

    Viacom International Studios Signs First Look Deal with Ariel Winograd (EXCLUSIVE)

    MADRID  — Adding to a powerful and still growing talent roster, Viacom International Studios (VIS) has clinched a first-look deal with Argentine writer-director Ariel Winograd whose latest movie, “The Heist of the Century,” has just become one of the biggest Argentine openers in history. The multi-year pact takes in the development and production of not [...]

  • William Bogert Dead: 'Small Wonder' Actor

    William Bogert, Who Appeared in 'War Games,' 'Small Wonder,' Dies at 83

    TV, film and theater actor William Bogert, who appeared in a recurring role on 1980s sitcom “Small Wonder” and in films such as “War Games,” died Jan. 12 in New York. He was 83. On “Small Wonder,” which ran from 1985 to 1989, Bogert played Brandon Brindle, the Lawsons’ neighbor and Harriet’s father who became [...]

  • 1917 Movie

    Why '1917' Is the Last Film That Should Be Winning the Oscar (Column)

    There’s a feeling I always get at the end of a long Oscar night when the movie that won isn’t a terrible choice, but it’s the safe, blah, MOR predictable choice, the one that conforms to the dullest conventional wisdom about the kinds of movies Oscar voters prefer, because in the core of their being [...]

  • Civil Rights Drama 'Praying for Sheetrock'

    Civil Rights Drama 'Praying for Sheetrock' in the Works as Feature Film (EXCLUSIVE)

    Enderby Entertainment is developing a feature film based on Melissa Fay Greene’s civil rights drama “Praying for Sheetrock,” Variety has learned exclusively. The non-fiction book, published in 1991, was a finalist for the National Book Award and won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize, Georgia Historical Society Bell Award and the ACLU National Civil [...]

  • Jared Harris arrives at the 26th

    No, Jared Harris is Not Playing Doctor Octopus in Marvel's 'Morbius'

    The first-ever trailer for Marvel and Sony’s next Spider-man spinoff “Morbius” left comic book fans reeling with theories. While the plight of the main character, Dr. Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) – a scientist dying of a rare blood disease who accidentally turns himself into a vampire – seemed ripped right out of the comics, the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content