Netflix is toasting Mexico’s National Day of Cinema on Aug. 15 with a slew of projects, many of them tapping the country’s wealth of literary classics and original storytellers. Working with some of the most prominent local filmmakers, the streaming giant is also reaffirming its $300 million commitment to Mexican cinema and series and its #QueMéxicoSeVea (“Let Mexico Be Seen”) initiative.
A teaser of its upcoming film “No voy a pedirle a nadie que me crea” (“I Don’t Expect Anyone to Believe Me”) by Fernando Frías De La Parra (“I’m No Longer Here”) debuts exclusively on Variety.
An adaptation of what award-winning author Juan Pablo Villalobos describes as an ‘autobiographical fiction,’ Frias’ latest film follows the writer as he prepares to go to Barcelona with his girlfriend to study for a doctorate in literature. But he gets caught up in a criminal network that spurs him to write the novel he’s always wanted while his life takes increasingly bizarre and ominous turns. Exile Content and Zeta Studios produced the drama.
“Following everything that happened with my previous film, which was as wonderful as it was unexpected, I felt a strong impulse to dismantle preconceptions. This new film comes from a place of freedom and from the motivation to defy conventions in terms of the kind of tones and narrative architectures generally expected from the region I come from and the regions that I work with,” Frias told Variety.
Netflix has also adapted Villalobos’ “Fiesta en la Madriguera” (“Down the Rabbit Hole”), now in production, directed by Manolo Caro (“The House of Flowers,” “Perfect Strangers”), which Noc Noc Films and Woo Films are producing.
The story follows Totchtli, a powerful drug lord’s young son who likes hats, dictionaries, samurais, guillotines and the French. He’s bent on getting a pygmy hippo for his private zoo and his indulgent father aims to get it for him. Totchtli shares a gilded hideaway with a motley group of people, including his tutor Mazatzin, who is convinced that imperialists are to blame for all the world’s problems.
Meanwhile, production is also about to kick off on the adaptation of Bárbara Anderson’s novel “The Two Hemispheres of Lucca,” to be directed by Mariana Chenillo (“Somos”), from a script by Javier Peñalosa. Starring Bárbara Mori (“Control Z,” “My Brother’s Wife”) and Juan Pablo Medina (“The House of Flowers”), it is also produced by Woo Films, the company behind such hits as “The Good Girls” and “The Eternal Feminine.”
In the book, “Anderson narrates with brutal frankness the day to day of having a child with a disability: the challenges inside and outside the home, the health and life complications; changes in priorities; the challenges of every day when having a child with – until now – an irreversible diagnosis such as infantile cerebral palsy,” the synopsis reads.
“Our strategy continues to evolve, becoming laser-focused on finding and telling unique stories with strong points of view,” said Francisco Ramos, VP of content for Latin America, adding: “We have a director-first strategy that supports his or her vision of the film we have agreed to make together.”
Leading the stellar lineup is “Pedro Páramo,” the much-anticipated directorial debut of Oscar-nominated cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto (“Brokeback Mountain,” “The Irishman”) a seminal classic by Juan Rulfo adapted by Mateo Gil (“Blackthorn”) and with an outstanding crew that includes Oscar-nominated production designer Eugenio Caballero (“Roma,” “Pan’s Labyrinth”) and costume designer Anna Terrazas, whose credits include “Roma,” “Spectre” and “Bardo.” Produced by Redrum and Woo Films, it’s now in post and is expected to drop next year.
“With ‘Familia’ from Rodrigo García, ‘Fiesta en la madriguera’ from Manolo Caro and ‘The Two Hemispheres of Lucca,’ from Mariana Chenillo, we are delving deep into three strong family dramas by three strong Mexican voices,” Ramos told Variety.
Commenting on how Netflix has evolved in structuring its deals, he added: “Flexibility in our deal-making is the way, each project is unique and we tailor make our deals to make sure that filmmakers and their producers bring their films to life as both them and us see fit, all the way from just licensing certain rights to fully financing their projects, we want them to feel comfortable and in control of the destiny of the stories they want to tell; simultaneously our pursuit is to bring the best Mexican films to our members, no matter the formula.”
Upcoming worldwide releases:
“La gran seducción,” (“The Great Seduction”)
Dropping Aug. 30, by“The Thin Yellow Line” helmer Celso Garcíastars Memo Villegas and Pierre Louis, with Oscar-nominated Yalitza Aparicio (“Roma”) in a key supporting role. Nicolás Celis’ Pimienta Films (“Roma,” “Prayers for the Stolen”) produces. Film turns on the small fishing village of Santa María del Mar where industrialization has ruined the inhabitants’ livelihood. The chance to revive the village comes when a fish-packing plant sets up shop and they pull out all the stops to lure a doctor to complete the village’s restoration.
“The Darkness Within La Luz del Mundo”
A documentary debuting in September, it probes the infamous sect La Iglesia de La Luz del Mundo, whose leader, Naasón Joaquín García, was arrested in the U.S. on 26 charges, including human trafficking, rape and child pornography. Testimonies of current and former members help give an in-depth account of the sham church. Directed by Carlos Pérez Osorio (“The Three Deaths of Marisela Escobedo”) it is produced by Laura Woldenberg and Ivonne Gutiérrez from Mezcla (“The Three Deaths of Marisela Escobedo,” “The Lady of Silence: The Mataviejitas Murders”).
“Invitación a un asesinato” (“A Deadly Invitation”)
A murder mystery drama launching in September, based on the novel by Carmen Posadas. It turns on a detective who has the grim task of solving her high-society sister’s murder. Several suspects are in her sights. JM Cravioto (“Diablero,” “Monarca”) directs a stellar Ibero-American cast that includes Spain’s Maribel Verdú, Colombia’s Manolo Cardona, Peru’s Stephanie Cayo and Mexico’s José María De Tavira. Jimena Rodríguez’s Windsor Films produces.
“Temporada de huracanes” (“Hurricane Season”)
Based on Fernanda Melchor’s acclaimed novel, winner of the International Literature Award in 2019 and short-listed in 2020 for the International Booker Prize. A group of children playing near the irrigation canals find the corpse of a witch, prompting the whole village to investigate how and why this murder occurred. Elisa Miller (“El placer es mio”) directs a cast led by Edgar Treviño, Ernesto Meléndez and Andrés Córdova. Woo Films produces. Debuting later in the year.