Veteran director Luis Mandoki is set to helm Tesoro (Treasure), the story of a Mexican immigrant who puts her life on the line to save her ailing father back home.
Set to shoot this summer, Tesoro centers on a Mexican waitress who risks everything to cross the Mexico-U.S. border so that she can earn money to pay for a life-saving operation for her father, but her return journey is thwarted by a deadly crime family.
Producer and writer Sandy Baumann, who participated in the Sundance Screenwriters Lab, penned the script based on her own father's near-death experience. Her shingle DreamCity Productions is in talks with Hollywood production partners.
Baumann has caught flak from some Donald Trump supporters who suggest she's making the immigration-themed movie as a vehicle to bash the president, but she wrote the script in 2010, long before Trump entered the political arena.
"It's not a political film, it's a touching, against-all-odds story centered in a dangerous border town," said Baumann. "I'm not going to let any backlash stop me from making this film that was inspired by my own true dad's life-saving operation."
Mexico City-born Mandoki has directed such Hollywood films as When a Man Loves a Woman (1994), featuring Meg Ryan and Andy Garcia, and the 2002 crime drama Trapped, starring Charlize Theron. The filmmaker also has previous experience with a border-set story when he directed the 2012 immigrant melodrama The Precocious & Brief Life of Sabina Rivas.
The English-language picture's cast will be announced next week.