Filmmakers on the verge

Directors who may make an mark in 2007

Variety looks at 10 helmers who are gaining attention and could make a mark internationally in 2007.

LEONARDO DI CESARE

Di Cesare is at work on “Fe” (Faith), a love story set on the rooftops of a flooded village. The dramatic comedy, set to shoot this year, is in the same vein as his debut feature “Buena Vida Delivery” (Good Life Delivery), a black comedy about a man struggling to keep his job as his in-laws overtake his home with a bakery business. It picked up laurels at Mar del Plata, Toulouse and Valladolid, selling to 20-plus markets.

JORGE GAGGERO

“Cama adentro” (Live-In Maid), winner of a special jury prize at Sundance in 2005, is a sensitive look at the travails of a wealthy woman and her housekeeper during an economic crisis. Gaggero followed with a bittersweet docu about men living in abandoned Ford Falcons, “Vida en Falcon” (Living in a Falcon). The busy helmer’s $1 million “Seguridad de los perros,” about a family’s paranoia for security, is in Berlin’s co-production market this year, and an adaptation of Richard Ford’s novel “Wild Life” is in motion. He’ll direct the Montana-set, $10 million, English-language film with John Moore (“The Omen”) producing.

ANA KATZ

Winner of 2006 San Sebastian’s Progress Industry Award, “The Wandering Bride,” about a girl moving on after getting dumped by her boyfriend, will hit the fest circuit this year. Katz is now packaging financing for “Bienestar,” an absurdist comedy to shoot this year. It follows an old couple trying to avert disaster in their perfect new home. Katz earned offshore attention for “Musical Chairs,” a drama about a family reunion.

SANTIAGO LOZA

Helmer of two hangdog features: the Rotterdam Tiger-winning “Strange” (2003) about a relationship-wary former surgeon, and femme friendship drama “4 Women, Barefoot” (2005). Set in marvelously drab industrial sprawl, “Strange” and “Women” tackle large themes — loneliness, parenthood, death — with unaffected but affecting grace. Little wonder top Euro sales agent Bavaria jumped on both. Next up: road-movie “La sal de los cuerpos.”

 

DIEGO RAFECAS

Rafecas made his debut with “Un Buda,” a semipersonal story of two brothers coming to terms with their father’s death and spirituality. Strong on visuals and perfs, Pascal Diot’s Onoma of France picked up international sales. Rafecas is now putting together funds for “Paco,” toplined by Tomas Fonzi, Esther Goris and Jorge Marrale. It follows a man’s recovery from paco, the new high for poor druggies. Rafecas also has on his slate”First Law,” a $2.5 million action drama about twin brothers in conflict over the land of the Toba aborigines, with Norma Aleandro attached.

ARIEL ROTTER

Rotter is poised for recognition for “El otro” (The Other), a Berlin contender. Pic follows an otherwise contented man grappling with the problems of aging — so he takes on the identity of a dead man. Julio Chavez of Berlin-laureled “El custodio” stars. “I write and film to unearth my own fears,” says Rotter.

DAMIAN SZIFRON

Szifron is a household name in Argentina — his private-eye series “Los simuladores” (The Pretenders) continues to pull in viewers in rerun on network TV. His sophomore pic “Tiempo de valientes” (On Probation), a crowdpleasing action comedy about a downhearted cop and a leftist shrink, is the first of three in a production deal with Oscar Kramer, behind wide-selling “Cronica de una fuga.” A genre specialist, Szifron is penning a science-fiction tale of a man who discovers what’s running through his veins isn’t blood.

JUAN TARATUTO

A favorite in Argentina and Spain, “No sos vos, soy yo” (It’s Not You, It’s Me) has made Taratuto a sought-after director for his freshness, artistic risk and commercial appeal, a rare combination in an auteur-strong industry. “Quien dice que es facil” (Who Says It’s Easy), another comedy, is tipped to outdo his freshman pic. Set for release in the first quarter of this year, it’s about a control freak who falls in love with a cosmopolitan — and pregnant — woman. “I like to explore internal conflicts, human relationships,” he says. A TV network has signed on for an ad blitz, a first for an indie pic in Argentina.

 

GUSTAVO TARETTO

A 15-year ad veteran, Taretto is writing his freshman feature, to lense this year. It will expand on award-winning short “Medianeras” (Side Walls), a simple, comical, sad and highly identifiable story of urban loneliness of two people who cross paths but never meet. “There are so many people, but we still feel alone,” he says.

ARIEL WINOGRAD

Winograd’s script for “Cara de queso: mi primer ghetto” attracted a roster of stars like Daniel Hendler and Mercedes Moran to the hard-hitting comedy about bullied kids in a Jewish country club. Based on his life, the helmer is prepping a sequel, the romantic comedy “Triple Ex,” for an early 2008 release.

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