‘Casa Muda’s’ Gustavo Hernandez Readies ‘God,’

Hot Uruguay genre director advances on next two movies

BUENOS AIRES – As Ventana Sur, Latin America’s biggest film emporium, bows its 1st Latin American Fantastic Film Market, one of Latin America’s most successful genre helmers, Uruguay’s Gustavo Hernandez, is advancing on two new movies: “Local God” and “Small Town.”

Hernandez’s feature debut, 2009’s “La casa muda” (The Silent House) wowed Cannes and international markets sparking a U.S. remake starring Elizabeth Olsen and directed by “Open Water’s” Chris Kentis and Lara Lau.

Both ‘God’ and ‘Town’ are set up at Mother Superior Films, the Montevideo-based production house founded this year by Hernandez, Ignacio Garcia Cucucovich and Santiago Gonzalez Mella.

The two movies are co-produced by Toronto’s A44 Films, created by the Mexican-born Lilia Deschamps, who takes an exec producer credit.

Impacting on its world premiere at 2009’s Cannes, “Silent House” delivered on the horror front but lept to fame thanks to its smart genre combo of a shock-fest and structural experimentation, being seemingly shot in real time and one take.

Almost entirely kept under wraps, “Local God” similarly, melds scare-fare and formal play.

It stars Diana Gabriela Freire Hopenhaym, Maite Mariana Oliveira and Manuel Agustin Urrutia as three young rock band members – two gals, one guy – who retreat to an old gold-mine to shoot a music vid of their latest album, a heart-searching work whose three tracks candidly explore each one of the band members’ deepest fears.

Underground, however, they unleash the cave’s local demon. This triggers their deepest nightmares, already hinted at by their album.

“Local God” is told in three chapters, one for each band member and album track, seen from the POV of the musician, with the stories spinning through ghastly acts of violence, cruelty and madness.

It is now in post, and will be ready for the film festival circuit next month, with its world premier being announced shortly, Deschamps said.

Gonzalez Mella wrote the screenplay from an original idea by Hernandez, Gonzalez Mella, Fade Capra and Ignacio Benedetti.

Garcia Cucucovich will produce, Deschamps, Annick Mahnert and Hugues Barbier exec produce.

“This time, it’s a bigger bet; ‘La casa muda’ was shot in only one location, with one leading role, while the new film tripled the locations and leading roles. Inside a small parameter, it has a bigger ambition,” said Hernandez.

He continued: “We are treading inwardly and that’s why the movie has a surrealist and fantasy-like feel. There are places in the cave that have the scenery of other sets stuck into it, for example, the hallway of an apartment.”

“In ‘Local God,’ the characters play in a surreal world of reality and the fears of their past, the traumatic events they’ve tried to forget will hunt them in present time, ” said Deschamps.

“The fear factor is very important because it is a horror film, but we also wanted to create interesting, smart content,” she added.

After “God,” Hernandez looks set to segue to “Small Town.” In it, a man returns to his hometown to claim the coffin of his mother, who died at the hands of a sinister cult leader, who’s also his father.

Presented by Hernandez at Austin’s Fantastic Market in September, “Small Town,” now in pre-production, would mark Hernandez’s English-language debut. Hernandez and Cucucovich, who form part of the Puentes Uruguay delegation at Ventana Sur, will be at the market to look for foreign co-prod partners and international sales agents.

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