Netflix has acquirs yet another film festival darling, this time being Selva Tragica (Translation: Tragic Jungle) which snagged two awards at the 77th Venice Festival. Loosely inspired by the novel Caribal: El Infierno Verde (by Mexican novelist-diplomat Rafael Bernal), Mexican filmmaker Yulene Olaizola's film is set in1920 on the border between Mexico and Belize where a ragtag band of Mexican gum workers come across a mysterious young (and mute) Belizean woman on the run. The woman is actually played by Indira Rubie Adrewin, a local actor who was plucked out of the unknown and will make her film debut here. The film will then take a fantastical turn as it becomes clear to the boys that the young woman is actually the mythical Mayan seductress Xtabay, who preys on unsuspecting men in the jungle. Along with the acquisition, Olaizola released a director's statement:
“The jungle is a living being, harassed by those men trying to steal its treasures; but it takes revenge in different ways, with poisonous plants, swarms of mosquitoes, fierce animals and with the enchantment of mysterious creatures."
Olaizola spent four months at the Mexican-Belize border to research on the subject matter of gum-making and the mythical legends of the land. In addition, filming took over seven weeks in the area south of Quintana Roo where, as Olaizola said, the cast and crew found themselves "venturing as deep into the jungle as much as we could." And, as the trailer released today shows, the result is a truly mesmerizing feature that sees it's central character bring tension and allure to an unsuspecting group of people:
Tragic Jungle will debut on Netflix on June 8th. The film is a co-production with France and Colombia, backed by the Cinemas du Monde-CNC, the Cannes Festival’s Cinéfondation L’Atelier workshop, and the ARRI Support Program. Imaz, Olaizola and Pablo Zimbron Alva (of Varios Lobos) are the producers of the film. Stay tuned!