Mexican duo top Films in Progress

'Dia,' 'Asalto' win kudos at San Sebastian

The San Sebastian Film Festival introduces a wide variety of pics to Spanish auds, from “Eat Pray Love” to “Exit Through the Gift Shop.” But two of the more useful programs to the film industry at the Sept. 17-25 fest were the Films in Progress section, showcasing Latin American pics in rough cut, and the Capitol Regions for Cinema co-production meetings.

Meanwhile, producers talked co-productions at the CRC meet, which showcased upcoming projects including Brillante Mendoza’s “Captured” and Spanish shingle Salto de Eje’s social comedy “Unas rebajas sin igual.”

Two films from little-known young Mexican helmers — Bernardo Arellano’s “Entre la noche y el dia” and Iria Gomez Concheiro’s “Asalto al cine” — swept the top honors at a hard-fought Films in Progress showcase at San Sebastian.

With the debut from another Mexican helmer, Kyzza Terrazas’ “El lenguaje de los machetes,” also screening well, the event turned into a tribute to the seemingly bottomless well of new directors coming on tap from Mexico.

Of this year’s seven-film lineup, playing to an audience including programmers from Sundance, Rotterdam, Berlin, Tribeca and Cannes festivals, the consensus was that around half or more of the pics could net major fest berths or sales agents deals.

Industry attendees also included leading sales companies Wild Bunch, Elle Driver, MK2, Rezo, Funny Balloons, Ondamax and Latido.

Tracing the emotional odys-sey of an ostracized autistic man, “Dia” won FIP’s main Industry Award, which guarantees post-production costs.

Produced by Roberto Fiesco’s Mil Nubes Cine, a Mexico City powerhouse of new directors, “Asalto” won the Casa de America Award, which carries a E10,000 ($12,700) cash prize for post-production.

It was rated as one of the section’s most commercial propositions, with several sales agents circling the title at the fest.

Showing a new approach to social issue films with commercial elements, “Asalto” mixes its portrayal of young friends in a soulless Mexico City hood with a slow-burning heist plot. A second portrayal of disaffected Mexican youth, “Machetes,” is edgier, chronicling the downward spiral of a self-destructive political activist and his singer girlfriend.

Colombia also made a strong showing, with “Karen llora en un bus,” Gabriel Rojas Vera’s feature debut, about a housewife striking out on her own after a dead-end marriage.

“Todos tus muertos,” the sophomore outing of Carlos Moreno, who debuted with the “Reservoir Dogs”-ish “Dog Eat Dog,” played to the section’s largest turnout. Social realist -style pic concerns a farmer who discovers corpses on his land.

Isabelle Huppert is attached to star in “Captured,” a Philippines-set hostage drama slated to roll in January.

English-language $3.3 million drama “Looking for Eimish,” helmed and produced by first-timer Ana Rodriguez, was another meeting standout, along with Fred Poulet’s “Hollywood, Baby.”

Emiliano de Pablos contributed to this report.

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