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A look inside Hollywood and the movies. : THE MOVING CANVAS

The race to get the story of the life of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo on the movie screen looks as though it’s going to be won by New Line Cinema, which plans to begin shooting a script by Luis and Lupe Valdez in January, and hopes to have the film in theaters by next summer. Tentatively titled “Frida: The Brush of Anguish” and based on Martha Zamora’s 1990 Kahlo biography of the same name, the film will be co-produced by Eduardo Rossoff and Donald Zuckerman and will be shot in Mexico City (where Kahlo lived) and France (where Kahlo traveled).

To be directed by Valdez (whose previous writing-directing credits include “Zoot Suit” and “La Bamba,” and who was unavailable for comment), the film is as yet uncast. “It’s not essential that a Mexican woman be cast in the lead because Frida was German-Jewish,” says producer Rossoff. As to the rumor that they’ve cast Madonna, who’s made no secret of her desire to play the part, Rossoff says: “No, we haven’t cast her.”

As to how much poetic license the picture plans to take with the life of the artist who died in 1954 after a stormy 26-year marriage to artist Diego Rivera and a lifelong struggle with crippling physical afflictions, Rossoff says: “This won’t be a fictionalized account and we’re adhering to the facts of her life as we know them. We’re not going to make her some blond bombshell, but we are using some of the dramatic elements of her life to make the movie interesting--this is a Hollywood picture after all.

“Martha Zamora is working as a consultant on the film,” he continues, “and there are people still living who actually knew Frida, and we plan to involve them in various capacities--either as advisers, or maybe we’ll cast them in small parts in the film.

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“This is the perfect time for this film because interest in Frida has never been higher. At this point the price for her work is even higher than it is for Diego Rivera’s,” Rossoff concludes. “And the celebration of Mexican culture that’s taking place this fall in L.A. is making people more aware of the richness of Mexican culture and how hugely influential it’s been in this country. If people are exposed to her art--which is fascinatingly surreal--I think they’re going to want to know more about her.”


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