'Violin' b.o. sounds sweet to Canana


MEXICO CITY -- "El Violin," a small Mexican indie film shot in black and white, is making a big splash at the boxoffice here.

The film currently has the highest per-theater average in Mexico at $8,400. In the No. 2 spot is "Wild Hogs" with $5,784, according to Nielsen EDI. With just 20 prints, "The Violin" has sold 45,000 tickets and grossed nearly $170,000 during its six-day run.

Canana Films, the Mexico City-based production and distribution company run by actors Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna and producer Pablo Cruz, released the picture. Directed and written by Francisco Vargas, "The Violin" tells the story of traveling rural musicians who support a guerrilla movement in Mexico.

The film has won numerous awards on the festival circuit, including best actor for Don Angel Tavira in the Cannes 2006 Un Certain Regard sidebar. It also garnered three of Mexico's Ariel awards, winning best first work, original screenplay and supporting actor.

Despite the many accolades, "The Violin" struggled to land a distribution deal in Mexico due to the film's subject matter and the fact that it was shot entirely in black and white. Independent distributors here saw it as a risky venture, but Canana believed it had boxoffice potential.

"We have targeted marketing for people who really want to see this type of movie and it has worked so far," Cruz said.

The picture has performed so well that Canana is looking to widen the release to 40 screens.