Mexico-based Michael Rowe, who leapt to notice winning the Cannes Festival’s Camera d’Or for his debut, “Leap Year,” scored double this weekend with his new feature, “Alicia,” winning a development award and CTT Exp & Rentals Award from the festival’s Gabriel Figueroa Film Fund.
“Alicia,” Rowe’s fourth feature, was one of only two titles, with Julio Hernandez Cordon’s “Comprame un Revolver,” which won more than a single plaudit from the fund, which mixes straight cash with awards in services from Mexican companies.
Written by Rowe and Montserrat Varela, “Alicia” turns on a 14-year-old girl who lives with her grandmother and estranged mom and suffers from severe sexual repression. Then, one day in the subway, a casual sexual encounter acts like it releases a genie in a bottle, initiating Alicia’s exploration of her identity and a plunge into extreme sexuality, Rowe told Variety.
Alexander de Graaf, a production and direction assistant on Amat Escalante’s “Heli,” which won best director at Cannes in 2013, will produce “Alicia.” According to Rowe, “Alicia” is opting for potential state production funding from Foprocine, a subsidy line of Mexico’s Imcine Film Institute, which will be announced in the next weeks. If financing is completed, shooting is scheduled for February in Mexico City.
Australian-born but based in Mexico since 1994, Rowe’s opera prima “Leap Year” seduced reviewers with what Variety called “a raunchy and acutely minimalist study of urban alienation, romantic longing and bedroom practices.”
In Rowe’s follow-up, “The Well,” which premiered at the Rome Film Festival in 2013, he depicted a girl’s struggle to come to terms with her parents’ divorce. Rowe’s third feature and first English-language outing, “Early Winter,” chronicles a mature man’s battle to save his marriage. “Early Winter” snagged the 2015 Venice Days Award.