BUENOS AIRES — One of Mexico’s highest-flying production houses whose latest movie production, “I’m No Longer Here,” screens as a work on progress at Ventana Sur, Gerardo Gática and Alberto Muffelmann’s Panorama Global, will produce “Mario,” a bio series directed by Bernardo de la Rosa which underscores Latin America’s building drive into bilingual, bi-country U.S.-Mexico TV series.
The move comes as Mexican producers seek to attract finance from the U.S. market and also appeal to a younger, totally bilingual Latinos who may still feel attracted by Latino themed but largely English-spoken dramas.
“As the story of a Mexican living in the U.S., we have to embrace the two languages, as Hispanic do,” De la Rosa said.
Produced also by Delicious Films, the label created by De la Rosa and Fernando Cabonara, “Mario” was presented in one-to-one meetings to sales agents and potential co-producers at the 7th Los Cabos Film Festival. It joins a slate of movies and series at Panorama, which often seek to shed judicious novel light onto the U.S.-Mexico relations, as in Fernando Frías’ “I’m No Longer Here,” an immigration tale with is not a narrative of hard-won integration and triumph in the U.S. but rather the tale of a sensitive teen who is condemned by cartel violence in Mexico to a life of seemingly permanent exile – an outsider in the U.S. and again in Mexico upon his return.
From an original idea by De La Rosa, but based on true events, “Mario” is set initially in Chicago, and unspools between the early 1980s and mid-last decade. A member of the Latin Kings from seven-years-old, Mario Flores, a promising high-school diver, is arrested in relation with a fatal shooting that takes place during a traffic accident dispute on New Year’s Eve, 1983-84. Incriminated by his two best friends, backed by their lawyers, Flores is sentenced to death by injection in Illinois’ Menard Correctional Center.
“A highly emotive cinematographic story where truth is stranger than fiction,” Panorama said in a statement, Mario’s more than 20-year stretch sees him study laws by correspondence course saving 13 Death Row inmates from execution, and prompting governor George Ryan to issue multiple pardons, including Flores own,’ in 2003.
But though he became famous behind walls as “the Lawyer,” his subsequent life outside prison confronts him with new challenges, begs questions about the recognition of Latino non-culpability but also talent.
“This is the perfect time for this kind of story to come to light at this critical political moment between the two countries, where Mexicans and migrants receive abuses of all kind,” De La Rosa said.
“Mario” is a “fictional drama-thriller with documentary tropes and the capacity to play three-or-four seasons given its biographical nature and the passage of time, taking in several stages in the development of characters,” he added.
De la Rosa aims to have a screenplay ready by mid-2019.