Following on “Huesera,” a double Tribeca winner, Mexico’s Machete, headed by Edher Campos, is returning to female filmmaker social issue genre with “Cachorra,” a darkly humoured horror thriller set on the Mexico-U.S. desert border.
The feature debut of Madrid-based genre scribe and consultant Elisa Puerto Aubel, who penned Sitges Audience Award winner. “La venganza de Jairo,” “Cachorra” is one of the newest additions to a five movie 2002-23 slate at Machete, producer of Cannes Festival winners “Leap Year” and “La Jaula de Oro.” It forms part of a robust lineup at this week’s Sanfic-Mórbido Lab, which packs many of Sanfic Industria’s most commercial propositions,
All of Machete’s films, three now in post-production, carry social point. A trio – “Huesera,” “Pups” and “The Path of Silence” – show Machete driving into genre and LGBTQ themes, fast emerging as the cutting edge focuses for many of the most exciting of Latin America movies. A break down on Machete’s 2022-23 slate:
“Huesera” (Michelle Garza Cervera)
“Huesera” is both genre and LGBTQ. A double winner at Tribeca, including New Narrative Director, picked up by XYZ Films for most world sales, it is surely one of the most admired Spanish-language films of the year, with sterling theatrical potential in Latin America and beyond. “A terrifying, bone-breaking body horror nightmare,”said Variety, in it a mother-to-be is forced to face her real horror: The self-denying life choices she’s made merely to fit in. “Leap Year” and “La Jaula de Oro” are also first features.
“Machete has a strong line in first-time feature directors and ‘Huesera’ is a first feature, that was produced together with Disruptiva Films, and is really good. It’s also made by women – the writers (Garza Cervera, Abia Castillo), a producer [Paulina Villavicencio], its director, DP (Nur Rubio Sherwell) and art director (Ana J. Bellido) are all women, and it’s about women,” Campos commented.
“Cachorra,” (Elisa Puerto Aubel)
A live action genre parable of human devastation set on the U.S. border, a land of outsiders, “Cachorra” “revisits one of the oldest myths and reflects on what society considers to be ‘outsider’ in no man’s land – our land,” says writer-director Puerto Aubel. It unspools in border town Mexicali, rife with drought, corruption and cantinas. Zoo vet Clara Vásquez is brought a unusual female wolf pup, with whom she connects immediately. Suddenly, strange things happen and terrifying wolves appear wanting to reclaim the pup. The film broadens out to reflect U.S.-Mexico relations. “The U.S. makes a mess and Mexico pays for it,” said Campos, characterizing the film’s dark humor as “a bit like ‘Let the Right One In,’ with some echoes of the sense of ridiculousness of Luis Estrada’s ‘Herod’s Law.’”
“The Path of Silence” (Isabel Cristina Fregoso)
Another feature debut, this time shot in Jalisco with backing from the the Film Commission of the State of Jalisco, a modern-sensibility period drama mixing genres and LGBTQ beats framed as a female-led coming-of-age Western set after the Mexican Revolution. In it, the teen hero leaves the ranch where she’s grown up as an adopted daughter to search for her father, dressing as a man. Sumptuously shot, “The Path of Silence” captures very well a sense of life in the Mexican countryside, in a period story of a girl who stages her own revolution to find herself,” Campos said. Film is finalizing editing.
“Journey to the Land of the Tarahumara,” (Federico Cecchetti)
Produced by Machete, L.A.-based Amplitud and France’s Thierry Lenouvel and starring Sylvie Testud (“La Vie en rose”) and Olivier Rabourdin (“Taken”), the film, directed by Federico Cecchetti, is a“tribute to the Tarahumara’s indigenous millennial and to Antonin Artaud,” says Campos. Set in 1936, in the Tarahumara mountains, the feature follows Rayenari, a young native whose life changes with the arrival of a troubled Artaud, the French avant-garde writer, actor and playwright. Meeting with the Tarahumara brings Artaud a sense of peace. Returning to France, he ends up locked away in a psychiatric institution. Now in post, the film is tracking for delivery in time for a big festival, the first semester of 2023, said Campos.
The late ‘90s tale of two teenagers on each side of the U.S.-Mexico border produced with Paulina Villavicencio (“Jairo’s Revenge”), “White Rabbit” was due to become the second feature of José Lomas Hervert whose debut “Potosi” won Best First Mexican Feature Award at the Guanajuato International Film. Festival. Sadly, Lomas Hervert died in late July. But his dream remains. “We don’t want to lose the project,” Campos said.
“The Dog Thief,” (Vinko Tomičić)
The story of a 13-year-old orphan shoeshine boy in La Paz who thinks a client could be his father, Vinko Tomičić’s sophomore outing won the Best Pitch Award at the Spring 2019 session of Cannes’ Cinéfondation Résidence in a contest which also prized Elena Lopez Riera’s “The Water” and Carla Simón’s “Alcarràs.”
The pan-Latin American co-production is backed by Zafiro Cinema, founded in 2018 by Campos and producer Gabriela Maire.
Very few Mexican production companies has scored more top festival awards than “Machete.” “Leap Year” won Cannes’ 2009 Camera d’Or for best first feature, “La Jaula de Oro” Un Certain Talent Award at Cannes 2013, Un Certain Regard and “Huesera” two prizes at Tribeca. Where would Campos like to take Machete in the next few years?
“Obviously, I’m committed to talking about social issues. I really like coming of age narratives and working with female directors. I’m mostly now focused on that and on gender. I’d love to work with trans directors and on trans stories. It’s something that we don’t have in Mexico,” Campos said.