Huelva sparks to ‘Silent Light’

Latin American fest boasts strong lineup

HUELVA — Carlos Reygadas’ “Silent Light” took top honors at the 33st Huelva Ibero-American Film Festival, scooping pic and director in a remarkable high quality competish lineup, which underscores the strength of Latin American pic production.

Lensed with striking visual asceticism, the high-art lyrical drama with metaphysical overtones narrates a case of adultery in a Mennonite community near to Chihuaha, Mexico.

“Light’s” double-whammy is the second year in a row that a Mexican film has topped Huelva, after Francisco Vargas Quevedo’s “The Violin” won in 2006.

Enrique Fernandez and Cesar Charlone nabbed best screenplay for “The Pope’s Toilet,” while Carlitos Ruiz Ruiz’s “Lovesickness” took best first film.

Actor kudos went to Leonardo Medeiros, for his perf in Philippe Barcinski’s “Not by Chance”; Sofia Gala won actress for Eliseo Subiela’s “El resultado del amor.”

“Resultado” also took the fest’s audience award and the Huelva Penitentiary Key of Freedom award. (The Penitentiary holds a parallel, slimmed-down version of the main fest.)

Running Nov. 22-24, Huelva’s 8th Co-production Forum saw producers pitch 35 projects in search of co-productions coin.

According to participants, project standouts included Spanish romantic comedy “Cuando el bebe huele a pescado” from Madrugada Films, $3.9 million comedy actioner “Gangster,” brought by Spain’s Framestorming, pensioners’ sex comedy “La vida empieza hoy,” pitched by consultant Mar Luque for Barcelona’s Ovideo, and a Mexican project, the family heist pic “Morenita” tubthumped by Esfera Films.

The only animation project at the Forum,” “El diente de la princesa” from Peru’s Alpamayo Ent., also curried considerable interest.

Forum underscored a renaissance in Spanish and Latin comedies, at the expense of somber dramas.

According to Spain’s Fapae producers association, out of 300 projects presented at the Forum’s eight editions, 30 are now in pre-production and 80 have seen completion.

Sidebar Rabida included among highlights — Lucia Puenzo’s hermaphrodite tale “XXY” and Pavel Giroud’s “La edad de la peseta,” as well as a world preem, “Myway,” helmed by Catalan vet Jose Antonio Salgot (“Lady of Porto Pym”). Movie is a narco family portrait with thriller overtones.

Argentine director Tristan Bauer showcased excerpts from his in-the-works Che Guevara doc, the fruit of 12 years of research and access to previously under-wraps archive material, withheld by the Bolivian army. One scene features a recording of Che Guevara reciting to his wife “Los Heraldos Negros,” a collection of verse by the great Peruvian poet Cesar Vallejo. Recording was made one day before Guevara’s death.

Bauer told Variety that he is also finishing off a screenplay about a romance between two students that is frustrated by the Argentine military coup in 1976.

Huelva fest is a bellwether for new trends coursing through Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American cinema. This year emphasized the building diversity in issues, styles and approaches.

For instance, Mariana Rondon’s singular “Postcards From Leningrad” presents Venezuela’s guerrillero life and campaigns filtered through the vision of a young girl.

The Andalusian fest ran Nov. 17-24.

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