Art and passion with a bicultural flavor
Mexico and Canada are at the roots of Weeping Willow, a film and television production company that seeks to establish itself in the quality content market in North America.
By Antonio Vázquez
Passionate is the right word to describe Weeping Willow, a film and television production company that contains the best of two countries: Mexico and Canada. Andrea Martínez Crowther –who has both Mexican and Canadian roots– heads up the company that has been involved in co-productions that cross borders. One of its most notable movies is Ciclo, filmed in 2009 but released in 2012.
The movie was the first with the seal of the Weeping Willow production company, though years earlier, Andrea Martínez had already filmed another movie whose rights were sold.
“When Ciclo premiered, so did Weeping Willow. The English name is not meant to be anti-Mexican but is because of my bicultural origin. One of the goals of the company is to export content. I am bilingual, I am bicultural, I know how to speak to audiences outside of Mexico, to speak culturally.
They love the things we have done for Canada,” says Martínez Crowther, who is strongly attached to her cultural and family roots.
That passion for her two cultures and her family history was captured in Ciclo.
The film documents the bike trip made by Arthur and Gustavo Martínez (Andrea’s father and uncle) to Canada. Fiftythree years earlier, the brothers had made the same 5,600-mile journey between Mexico City and Toronto, mounted on their two-wheelers. On their first trip, they left only with bikes, 100 usd and two changes of clothes.
This time, they were accompanied by a whole productionteam that recorded each push of the pedals as they visited the same points they did half a century before.
“I grew up with this story; it is part of my family, of my own bicultural origin. My father met my mother in Canada and returned to Mexico,” says the filmmaker.
For the production of Ciclo, Andrea Martínez had access to funds from both Mexico and the US. The story of the two men, who are now over 70 years of age, drew attention in both countries.
The film allowed the head of Weeping Willow to explore other fields, such as television content. Thus, the production company has mixed the two media in order to create quality productions.
The company’s first television project is called Ingredients for a Good Life. It is a series of programs presented by Amanda Martínez –a Mexican-Canadian singer and cousin of Andrea– who travels through different regions of Mexico analyzing the local culture.
“It is about presenting the lesser-known regions of Mexico to the Canadian public. We wanted to build confidence among Canadians that they can eat anywhere in Mexico and feel safe, that they can travel to Mexico safely,” explains Martínez Crowther.
Ingredients for a Good Life now has six episodes that capture the richness of San Luis Potosí and another six addressing the beauty of Baja California.
Another project is Bicycle Diaries, a production broadcast by TV-UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico) that recounts the experience of people who use bikes to commute to work, home, school, for exercise or just for fun.
“Bicycle Diaries is a great product for export, since people from France or the US are just as interested because it is a universal theme. There is a lot of material in Mexico to export,” points out Martínez Crowther, who has worked in international productions and considers that Mexico’s film industry has some excellent talent. Mexican directors, photographers, and crews are acknowledged by professionals from other countries, she says.
The producer has engaged in dialogue with ProMéxico to plan a marketing strategy in other countries. For now, among her plans is to open offices in Canada and on Mexico’s border with the US.
“We are working to position ourselves as a producer and exporter of quality television content; we will open offices in Tijuana and Toronto to generate co-productions that are seen both inside and outside of Mexico,” reveals Martínez Crowther.
Currently Weeping Willow is producing the program My Dancing Heart for Al Jazeera’s Viewfinder series. This documentary is an exploration of sensuality, romance and the possibility of love among senior citizens in Mexico City whose passion revolves around the danzón, a traditional slow moving dance which is very popular in Mexico.
Originally Published in Negocios, ProMexico October 2014