Co-prod'n forum points to Latin American growth

HUELVA, Spain — Three Colombian projects — “Lost Wolves,” “Arijuna — White Men” and “Virgin exotica” — proved to be among the most popular projects at the 12th Huelva Co-Production Forum, which wrapped Friday.

The interest sparked by the first two titles came as no surprise.

A romantic thriller plus hit-men redemption story, “Wolves” is the latest project from the director-producer axis of Carlos Moreno and Diego Ramirez, responsible for “Dog Eat Dog” and “All Your Dead Ones,” which both played Sundance.

Co-produced by Maja Zimmermann’s German shingle Motivo Films and co-director Jorg Hiller’s Bogota-based Tonal Ent., “Arijuna” weighed in with Rafa Lara’s “5 de mayo, tiempo de valientes” — a standout Mexican title — as the Forum’s largest-scale Latin American project.

Written by screenwriter Hiller (“Sonar no cuesta nada”), it is a romantic thriller about a Nazi U-boat crew who wash up on Colombian shores. The pic’s producers are in talks with Peru’s Magaly Solier (“The Milk of Sorrow”) to play the co-lead, Zimmermann said. Cast and possible studio work could allow “Arijuna” to qualify for German funds, she added.

Produced by Marisol Correa Vega, “Virgen exotica” looked like the two-day Forum’s breakout.

The first feature of Bogota’s Castano Producciones, founded earlier in 2011, and helmer-scribe Mario Esteban Castano’s feature deb, “Virgin” turns on some Amazon villagers who pretend to be reservation-bound natives untouched by modernity so as to attract tourists. All goes well until a German tourist decides he wants to embrace their ancient customs.

“Virgin” is co-produced by Eric Vogel at Oslo’s Torden Films. Castano is in talks for Argentina’s Aire Cine and Utopica Cine, producers of “Las acacias,” to co-produce.

A comedy, “Virgin” treats a serious subject — ethnic stereotyping — with a light touch.

“You’re not from where you come from, you’re from where you’d like to go,” Castano said at Huelva.

Other Huelva buzz projects suggest Latin America’s gradual embrace of genre.

One forum fave, now shooting, was Alfonso Acosta’s “The Crack,” produced by Colombia’s Cabecitanegra, a brooding grieving-family drama with building horror overtones, script doctored by Lucrecia Martel (“The Headless Woman”). It attracted strong sales agent interest at July’s Bogota Audiovisual Market (BAM). Cabecitanegra is in co-production talks with Hernan Musaluppi’s Buenos Aires-based Rizoma, producer Carolina Mosquera said in Huelva.

Another Huelva standout, “Sealed Cargo” is “a rail movie with a social, political and ecological background,” in the words of Ozcar Ramirez, at Mexico’s Arte Mecanica, the Mexican producer of Kinology-sold Cannes player “Days of Grace.”

Charting the face-off between a hidebound cop and a communist driver on an old train full of toxic waste bound for Bolivia’s Chile border, “Cargo,” a Mexico-Venezuela-Bolivia co-prod, is helmed by the 70-year-old Bolivian Julia Vargas Weisse.

In further signs of Latin America’s growing empowerment — which sees it co-produce across the region rather than turn automatically to Europe or the U.S. — Mexico’s Iria Gomez Concheiro (“The Cinema Hold-Up”) is attached to direct overly possessive father drama “Waiting for the Barbarians.” Alejandro Prieto will produce out of Colombia’s Cajanegra with Gomez’s Ciudad Cinema.

Of Huelva’s 44 projects, up on 32 in 2010, other titles attracting heat included Uruguay’s “High Five” and “Clever,” Chile’s “Divine” and “To Kill a Man,” Mexico’s “I Dream in Another Language” and “Pozo amargo,” and Colombia’s “Dust on the Tongue.”

The Huelva Ibero-American Festival runs Nov. 19-26.

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