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Fuentes-Leon preps ‘Vanished Elephant’

Thriller follows Sundance winner 'Undertow'

GUADALAJARA — Helmer-scribe Javier Fuentes-Leon is prepping “The Vanished Elephant,” the follow-up to his debut feature, “Undertow,” which won Sundance’s World Dramatic Competition Audience Award in 2010.

The film noir thriller turns on crime novel scribe Edo Celeste, whose girlfriend disappeared years before. On the 5th anniversary of her disappearance, he receives an envelope with photos that seem part of a collage, clues to what happened to her.

The pic was originally set in L.A., but will now lense in Peru, placing elements of classic film noir against the backdrop of Lima, “a humid, sprawling, chaotic urban area,” Fuentes-Leon said, “bursting with movement, vibrancy and sharp contrasts between the haves and have-nots.”

Moving from the streets of Lima to Peru’s Paracas beaches, ” ‘Elephant’ asks constantly: What is fiction and what is reality?,” and explores “the creative process, and the loss and emptiness which remains when something close or personal escapes us,” Fuentes-Leon explained at Mexico’s Guadalajara festival.

The pic’s title refers to an elephant-shaped rock-formation off Paracas, which collapsed and disappeared into the ocean during Peru’s 2007 earthquake.

Skedded to shoot fall 2012, “Elephant” is set up at Lima’s Elcalvo Films. Fuentes-Leon and Colombia’s Dynamo, a producer on “Undertow,” are working together to raise the financing and to make the film.

Peru’s Oscar submission, “Undertow” was picked up for U.S. distribution by The Film Collaborative for theatrical and Wolfe Releasing for DVD. The pic was a sales success for Shoreline, and grossed a sturdy €155,836 ($208,976) in Spain.

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