LOS CABOS, Mexico — Ringing its options as one of Canada’s most internationally-minded companies, Yanick Letourneau’s Quebec-based Périphéria has boarded “Viaje al País de los Tarahumaras” and English-language “In Cold Light.”
Directed by Federico Cecchetti, “Viaje,” which won the best pitch Talent On The Road Award at Los Cabos Film Festival on Saturday, is set up at Edher Campos’ Mexico-City based Machete Producciones, and co-produced by Périphéria and Thierry Lenouvel’s Paris-based Ciné-Sud Promotion.
Mike MacMillan’s Toronto-based Lithium Studios (“Mobile Homes,” “Don’t Talk To Irene”) is producing “In Cold Light” with Périphéria and “I Am Not a Witch’s” Emily Morgan, at London-based Quiggety Productions.
“Viaje” is Périphéria’s second co-production with Machete, after “V-500,”a three-part take on migration and transformation in Canada, Mexico and Colombia which Périphéria majority-produced, with Machete as its Mexican partner.
For Périphéria, and indeed Giroux, “In Cold Light” marks a move toward the mainstream in a broader audience movie.
“For me, this is the occasion to really put the bar higher and go more commercial, without losing one’s soul,” Letorneau said of “In Cold Light,” which was also presented at Los Cabos.
“It’s about having the capacity to work on a breakout feature that could go on to festivals but also have a strong commercial career.”
Originated by Lithium Studios, “In Cold Light” turns on Ava, a former drug dealer just out of prison who’s attempting to go straight. Her world collapses when her twin in shot dead. A witness to the killing, Ava is forced to, at one and the same time, run for her life and seek to protect her family and herself, “clinging to the hope that somehow, even in her darkest moments, she will find redemption, grappling with trying to do right and do good,” a written synopsis suggests.
The film is set against the Calgary Stampede, a massive rodeo sweeping through the city, bringing onto the streets, as night falls, drunken revelers, addicts and drug dealers.
“‘In Cold Light’ is an intense, rollercoaster of a ride. From the first read, I felt compelled to make it. Hard and occasionally brutal, the film finds both an undeniable rhythm and a conscientious sense of humanity. It is electric. And we can’t wait to share it with audiences,” MacMillan said.
Giroux broke out with 2015’s “Felix and Meira,” a “respectful romance” distinguished by its subtlety and sensitivity,” Variety said in its review. He directed road trip “The Great Darkened Days,” which screened at Toronto this year.
“A fast-paced kinetic type of action-thriller drama,” Letourneau said, “In Cold Light” is a “female ‘Drive,’ with the female protagonist directed by James Gray, reinterpreted by a commercial director.”
Twinning companies in Toronto and Quebec allows producers to tap into not only their top-notch service companies and incentives but also talent, MacMillan said.
Cecchetti’s second feature, “Viaje al País de los Tarahumaras” turns on French playwright Antonin Artaud’s life-defining travel to the Mexican highlands to experience shamanic healing and his encounter with Tarahumara boy Rayenari. Scared, Artaud gives up the ritual, returns to France where he is admitted to a psychiatric hospital and subjected to electroshock treatment. Rayenari, through dreams, attempts to save Artaud’s spirit. Described by director Cecchetti as a “film essay,” for Letourneau the “Tarahumaras” is “a creative interpretation of what happened to Artaud,” “a story about the peyote ritual ad the loss of indigenous knowledge and spirituality and their connection with the earth and the spirit world with the advance of capitalism and the industrialization.”
The director’s debut, “Mara’akame’s Dream,” won best first/second feature at the 2016 Morelia Festival, and last year a Mexican Academy Ariel for best first work.