BUENOS AIRES — In a return to film production after serving as president of Argentina’s National Institute of Film and the Audiovisual Arts (INCAA) and then as a member of parliament, film producer Liliana Mazure is teaming with prestigious counterparts in Mexico and Brazil on a three-part, pan-regional dark comedy, “Mental Health Not Included.”
Lead produced by Mazure’s Arca Difusión in Argentina, Laura Imperiale’s Cacerola Films and Carlos Sosa’s Viento del Norte in Mexico and Beto Rodrigues Panda Filmes in Brazil, “Mental Health” will be directed by Martin Salinas, writer of 2003 Diego Luna starrer “Nicotina” and writer-director of the Diamond-distributed and then Netflix-released “Ni un hombre más,” with Valeria Bertuccelli.
Also written by Salinas, “Mental Health Not Included” kicks in with the president of the United States, Donald Cramp, announcing an end to international trade: the U.S. will henceforth function as a self-sufficient economy. He dispatches protesting IMF officials in Guantánamo for good measure.
As stock market implodes, “Mental Health Not Included” shows how the crash impacts across Latin America in three interweaving stories: In Sao Paulo, after a TV co-production fund collapses, Paulo, a put-upon location scout replaces the construction of psychiatric clinic by a real location, harboring, unbeknown to him, a dangerous psychopath.
At the same time, and as the same TV news of financial collapse unspools in the background in all three stories, in Buenos Aires Angel who has bought stock in a company after a tip-off from his cousin, Argentina’s minister of economics, sees his life savings evaporate when the measure planned by his cousin is never put through.
In Mexico City, yuppie Sigfrido attempts to hangs himself, having spent all his mother’s money on his heroine addiction, when a girl, deported from Los Vegas, with $10,000 in cash bursts into his flat.
Meanwhile, the Chinese navy sends its fleet towards the U.S. in a desperate defense of free trade.
The film’s characters are sometimes based on figures in Salinas’ hit Argentine TV series “Tiempofinal,” remade by Fox for Latin America.
“The film turns on coincidence to some extent, like ‘Nicotina.’ Its characters are from normal life, whose interests are linked to the international financing system, in limit situations,” Salinas said.
The three-way co-production also represents one way of tackling a challenge which Mazure wrestled with when ICAA president: How to create an interest in a movie in other parts of the region outside its country of origin. Movies, as indeed drama series, function first and foremost in their country if origin.
“Mental Health” not included marks a caustic comment on the real plight if Argentines, and indeed Latin Aericans in general, where the money in their wallet is determined by a macro global economy whose buoyancy – the state of the commodities cycle or U.S interest rates – is beyond their comprehension and control.
In a case of the art of production reflecting the movie’s theme, but producers moving far more cannily to take advantage of macro-economic pivots as the Argentine peso plunge reforges production budgets, Mexican interiors may be shot in Argentina, Salinas said.
“Mental Health Not Included” is financed by Imcine, Ancine and INCAA incentives and private investment, Mazure said.
“I’m very excited about returning to production, which I spent years in. After working at the INCAA, you naturally come back with another, bigger-picture vision as well,” said Mazure.
She added: “I like the film’s screenplay very much and am very attracted to the idea of producing in three different cities, with Mexican, Brazilian and Argentine actors.
Mazure co-produced “Nicotina” and Paul Leduc’s “Cobrador: In What We Trust” and Ruy Guerra’s “La mala hora.”
Describing himself as an “Argentine-Mex,” Salinas’ writing credits also take in Carlos Carrera’s 1998 hit “Un embrujo,” produced by Bertha Navarro and Guillermo del Toro, and lensed by DP Rodrigo Prieto (“The Wolf of Wall Street”) and Luis Mandoki’s “Gaby,” which won Norma Aleandro a best supporting actress Oscar nomination.