Sundance-Winning Screenwriter-Producer Julio Chavezmontes Discusses ‘Time Share’

Following a screenplay award at Sundance and competition screenings at Guadalajara, “Time Share” is one of the most buzzed-up title at this year’s Mexican festival

GUADALAJARA, Mexico — Sebastian Hofmann and Julio Chavezmontes’ “Time Share” arrived at the Guadalajara Film Festival among the most-anticipated films participating in the event’s Premio Mezcal and Ibero-American Fiction Feature competitions.

With good reason. At January’s Sundance Film Festival, the co-writers scored the World Competition – Dramatic award for best screenplay. This week, in addition to competing at Guadalajara, the film is in the running for the grand jury best feature at the Miami Film Festival, which will announce winners on Sunday. Before Carlos Reygadas’ “Where Life is Born” and Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma” possibly hit Cannes, “Time Share” stands aside Alfonso Ruizpalacios’s Berlin competition screenplay winner “Museum” as the highest-profile early 2018 Mexican film in a potentially notable first half 2018 harvest.

Both writers worked double duties on the film, with Chavezmontes producing and Hofmann directing and co-producing, continuing a partnership that has paid dividends in the past. In addition to Hofmann and Chavezmontes’ production company Piano, the Netherlands’ Circe Films co-produced.

In 2012, Hofmann and Chavezmontes combined on the horror-drama “Halley,” which won awards at East End, Sitges and Mexico’s Ariels, the country’s equivalent of the Oscars, among others. But, where that horror film was dark and daunting start-to-finish, the insidious themes in “Time Share” are buried beneath the veneer of pastels, pools and sunshine at a tropical resort.

What should be a relaxing and healing vacation for a family reunited after an unexplained trauma quickly turns into a nightmare for patriarch Pedro, when their private villa gets double-booked by the new owners of the complex. After an unsatisfying evening of arguing with management, Pedro concedes to sharing the villa with a family that he instantly dislikes. With gritted teeth, he tries his best to make due and spend some quality time with his family, but is constantly interrupted by their co-occupants. To make matters worse, his family seem to be enjoying their time with their unexpected roommates.

Meanwhile Gloria and her husband Andres, Pedro’s kindred spirit of sorts, work for the resort. It’s clear from the start that they too are suffering from tragedy and trauma.

The stories mirror and eventually intersect as all characters involved participate in a high-pressure time share sales presentation. Writer-producer Julio Chavezmontes talked with Variety about the film, blending genre and the state of the Mexican industry.

Latin America has seen significant growth in genre-mainstream hybrids, and “Time Share” fits that mold, where as your first film “Halley” was more pure genre. Was the change intentional?

We weren’t responding to anything we heard in the marketplace. “Halley” was our first film and we are really proud of it. As with any first film it was done with extreme budget limitations, so there were many things we couldn’t do. After the success of that film, we were in the position to be able to do something much more ambitious that had a wider reach. We wanted to challenge ourselves creatively but still within our sensibilities. There was no sense back then about what is happening now, with genre films having more space in the market. There is a growing acceptance of elevated genre now.

How did “Time Share” come about?

We started writing “Time Share” as we were finishing “Halley.” The first little teaser for “Time Share” is in “Halley,” when Alberto is listening to an add on the TV which is for the resort from this film.

Your films have horror or thriller aspects, but a strong sense of humor. Can you talk about why that’s important?

This film has very much the same sense of humor you find in “Halley.” It’s not quite as present, but in the same sense there is a curiosity about people and how they have mirages of how they see themselves and they are imprisoned by that.

And how do you balance comedy and drama?

One thing that was really important was making the film take place in a place that felt really truthful to what our characters would imagine as a paradise. It was important the hotel felt stately and imposing. Then with the program they are participating in they are actually trapped there. With “Halley” it was similar. The main character is in another form of limbo, trapped in his own body.

When you did start on “Time Share,” what were your goals?

One of the things in writing the script was to do a sort of a haunted house film where the ghosts would be these uncontrollable feelings the characters are possessed by. It was really crucial that there was a sense of something wrong with the Everfield Corporation, but that it wasn’t over the top. What they were saying, you had to believe they could fall into it. We also looked at the corporate structure where now a job doesn’t just offer you a paycheck, but it offers a whole identity and you are supposed to be part of this larger project where everything becomes branded. It’s another form of possession.

Do you have any distribution plans yet?

Our company Piano will handle the Mexican distribution. We are really looking forward to giving the film a wide release in the second half of 2018. We really want to get it to a broader audience in Mexico. It’s important that we bring the project home and find a good audience here. Mexico has a terrific audience, and a growing audience that has proven itself as being very generous in taking chances on films that are not so easy. For international, we have offers, but haven’t signed anything yet.

Can you talk about the state of Mexican filmmaking? It’s growing rapidly, and always more sophisticated.

I think it comes from the enormous success of the public policies enacted in Mexico for film production. I think it isn’t given enough credit for how successful it’s been in creating a thriving industry that has a growing diversity of voices. We have so many different visionaries that are working, and creating new audiences for their types of films. I think that’s a sign of a really healthy industry.

More Film

  • MPAA Logo

    Motion Picture Association of America Hires Emily Lenzner as Communications Chief

    The Motion Picture Association of America has appointed veteran public relations executive Emily Lenzner as its executive VP of global communications and public affairs. She will report to Chairman and CEO Charles Rivkin and oversee the trade group’s communications team in the U.S. and internationally. Lenzner will start Aug. 1 and be based at the MPAA’s [...]

  • See Taylor Swift Unveil Feline Moves

    See Taylor Swift Unveil Feline Moves for First Time in 'Cats' Behind-the-Scenes Teaser

    Taylor Swift fans finally get to see some of the results of all those years spent studying her roommates Meredith and Olivia — and also, not incidentally, some time with a choreographer — in a new behind-the-scenes teaser for the movie “Cats.” The three-and-a-half-minute featurette has footage of Swift striking crouching feline moves as well [...]

  • CGR’s Immersive Premium Format Set for

    Immersive Theater Technology Set for US Debut in Los Angeles

    French multiplex company CGR Cinemas has selected the Regal LA Live as the first U.S. theater to use its Immersive Cinema Experience technology. The ICE format will be unveiled in the fall at the downtown location in a partnership between CGR and AEG. The companies made the announcement Wednesday but did not reveal which title [...]

  • Amazon Developing Original Series Based on

    Amazon Studios Buys 'Selah and the Spades,' Will Develop Original Series (EXCLUSIVE)

    Amazon Studios has acquired worldwide rights to “Selah and the Spades,” a gripping look at a prep school drug dealer, Variety has learned. The film marks the feature debut of writer and director Tayarisha Poe and had its world premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival where it was a favorite with critics. Amazon has [...]

  • The Ultimate Guide to 2019 Comic-Con

    The Ultimate Guide to 2019 Comic-Con Parties and Activations

    Hollywood is heading down the California coast to San Diego because It’s time for 2019 Comic-Con International. The annual cosplay celebration officially kicks off tomorrow, July 18, with a preview happening tonight. Here, Variety gives you a guide to this year’s parties and activations. Make sure to check back for updates. Wednesday, July 17Amazon Prime [...]

  • The Wound African Cinema Berlin Film

    Finance Forum Brings African WIP Into Focus at Durban FilmMart

    The 10th edition of the Durban FilmMart, which unspools parallel to the 40th Durban Intl. Film Festival, will feature 10 fiction and 10 documentary works-in-progress taking part in its annual Finance Forum. The leading co-production market on the continent, the Forum brings together producers, distributors, sales agents, broadcasters, funding bodies, and other industry players from across the [...]

  • The Lion King

    'The Lion King' Looks to Roar Life Into Domestic Box Office

    Hollywood just can’t wait for “The Lion King” to hit theaters. That’s because Disney’s highly anticipated remake is expected to draw herds of moviegoers at a time when ticket sales are seriously struggling. Box office watchers predict that the studio’s grand return to the Pride Lands could become one of this year’s biggest hits. “The [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content