Altavista Films - the two year-old production arm of Mexican entertainment giant Corporacion Interamericana de Entretenimiento (CIE) - has lined up a production slate headed by Tear This Heart Out aka Arrancame La Vida, a $4.2m period epic to which Salma Hayek is attached to star.

Roberto Sneider, who was once attached to direct Hayek's long-cherished Frida Kahlo biopic, will direct the film, a period piece about the wife of an influential general who has an affair with a musician. Based on the successful novel by Angeles Mastreta, it is set to shoot in 2001.

Alta Vista has an impressive track record to date. Its first movie Gimme Power (Todo El Poder) made $10m at the Mexican box office, the equivalent of 3.5m admissions, as did its second Love's A Bitch (Amores Perros) which won the Camera d'Or at Cannes this year. Lions Gate Films International picked up both titles for international sales prior to Cannes, and at Toronto its sister company Lions Gate Films completed its acquisition of domestic rights to Amores Perros.

The company's third production - Dust To Dust (Por La Libre) - played in the Toronto Film Festival's Discovery section. It was directed by Juan Carlos De Llaca. Without A Trace (Sin Dejar Huellla), directed by Maria Novaro (Danzon), is screening in competition at San Sebastian.

Also in the works at Altavista are:

  • Perhaps (Quizos) directed by Fernando Sarinana, a $1.5m romantic comedy which will be ready for delivery in April 2001. Lisa Owen, Jesus Ochoa and Jorge Pozas star.
  • The Soccer Dream (Atletico San Pancho) directed by Gustavo Loza, a $1.4m family film starring Hector Suarez as the coach of a school soccer team. Lumi Cavazos co-stars.
  • The films are released through Latin America by CIE's distribution operation NuVision, which is also making a mark for itself with US producers and sales companies. It has Latin American rights to a slew of films such as The Blair Witch Project from Artisan/Summit, Autumn In New York from Lakeshore Entertainment and Family Man from Beacon Pictures.

    "The Mexican industry is coming back again," said Federico Gonzalez Compean, the director of content for CIE, which also has a successful stage arm responsible for staging such shows as Beauty And The Beast, Les Miserables and The Phantom Of The Opera throughout Latin America. "These films have strong production values and talented directors, and Mexicans are becoming keen to see their own stories on screen again."