Luxbox pickup “Martinez,” starring Chile’s Francisco Reyes, best known for his indelible performance in Sebastian Lelio’s Oscar-winning “A Fantastic Woman,” is debuting its trailer and poster ahead of its world premiere at the 40th Miami Film Festival.

Written and directed by upcoming Mexican director Lorena Padilla, the dark comedy follows the titular Martinez, a cantankerous, lonely bureaucrat whose humdrum life is upended by two changes: a pending retirement that is driven home when the guy sent to replace him starts working alongside him; and, secondly, when a neighbor, a woman about his age, is found dead in her home only after several months have passed. As he sifts through her belongings and finds out more about this woman he never knew, he finds himself changing for the better and enjoying life once more.

“’Martínez’ began as an attempt to get to know and understand my dad more, and as we progressed, I went from a position of judging to a position of understanding, and not only that, but to identify with Martínez, and realize that I have, and we all have a Martinez inside of us,” Padilla told Variety.

“Being an independent film, it took a long time to crystalize. Far from affecting the project, I think the slow pace made it evolve better, and the truth is, I’m a late bloomer, exactly like Martínez. To make this film, I went through a marriage, an MFA at NYU, a child, a divorce, and most unexpectedly, a pandemic,” she added.

“Filming in the middle of the pandemic made me see the film and the character with different eyes. We were all immersed in this collective experience, this forced loneliness, this not being able to touch others, this not being able to be with others, and in the end saying: ‘Yes, physical presence is needed, we do need others.’ And it was very significant for everyone, because in the end that is Martínez’s experience, realizing that contact with others enriches your existence,” noted Padilla who served as head of Berlinale Talents at the Guadalajara Film Festival in 2021 and is working as a screenwriter and director for films and series with the likes of Fabula, Viacom and Cinépolis.

Described as a “subtle comedy about loneliness, aging, and the eternal quest for love,” Padilla’s debut feature was lensed in the city of Guadalajara by Gerardo Guerra (“Dos Estaciones”). It was selected by ioncinema.com as one of the Top 200 Most Anticipated Foreign Films of 2023. Other cast members include Humberto Busto and Martha Claudia Moreno.

“Martínez” marks the debut film of Alquimia Cinematográfica, the newly created production banner led by producer Georgina Gonzalez. “When I read Lorena’s script as a writer’s sample, I immediately fell in love with this inspiring story about the unlikeliest of connections, where a woman who’s passed on reignites a total stranger’s will to discover life through her unfulfilled wishes,” Gonzalez told Variety. 

“I believe in Lorena’s talent and hope this film continues to spark opportunities to see more of her work as well as other out-of-the-box stories from creatives with diverse perspectives,” she added.

The dramedy is a co-production with Mexican film institute Imcine, the Jalisco Film Commission (Filma Jalisco), Off-Hollywood Films, Gavilan Cine, Semillero Estudios, Jaquez Brothers and Vertigo VFX. 

Paris-based Luxbox acquired international sales rights to it in October 2019.

Film won several post production and marketing prizes at the Guadalajara Film Festival’s Guadalajara Construye, including from Chemistry Cine, Fix Comunicación, Diecinueve 36, 3C Film Group and Secuencia+Estratégico. It also gained support from Estudios Churubusco through an alliance with Cine Qua Non Lab.

The 40th Miami Film Festival runs March 3-12.