Variety essays a pick of the pics screening at the Latin America’s biggest film market
A selection of titles screening at Ventana Sur, most finished, a few works in progress, outside already announced selections for Primer Corte and Blood Window. Some may attach sales agents as Ventana Sur begins.
7TH FLOOR (Patxi Amezcua, Spain-Argentina) A thriller co-starring Ricardo Darin and Belen Rueda which boasts robust B.O. in Argentina and Spain and strong sales, led by a Fox pick-up for North America, Latin America and Spain. S: Film Factory Ent.
ALL ABOUT THE FEATHERS (Neto Villalobos, Costa Rica) A feel-good dramedy about a bored security guard’s budding bromance with his rooster, which he trains as a gamecock, abetted by motley oddball types played by non-pros. BAL’s Sinsistema prize and Miami’s Encuentros. S: UDI
ALMOST THIRTY (Alejandro Sugich López Arias, Mexico) A romcom about thirtysomethings facing the dilemma of settling-down or pursuing their dreams. S: KA Films
THE AMAZING CATFISH (Claudia Sainte Luce, Mexico) Or the Amazing Strong Seller: Winning Ventana Sur’s 2012 Primer Corte, picked up by Pyramide Intl., which has a habit of turning Ventana Sur standouts into fest prizes and sales – think “Leap Year” and “Clandestine Childhood” – Sainte Luce’s rumbustious family portrait doesn’t stop winning plaudits – at Locarno, Toronto, Biarritz, Baja, Gijon and Mar del Plata – or pulling down major territory deals. U.S. distribution now in the offing.
ANINA (Alfredo Soderguit, Uruguay-Colombia) Exquisite whimsical 2D animation feature about a little-girl’s early coming of age which won Cartagena and is Uruguay’s Oscar submission.
ASIER AND I (Aitor Merino, Ecuador-Spain) A post ETA-ceasefire docu-feature dramedy, structured as a personal diary drawing on the director’s experience, narrated to camera by the percipiently confused Merino.
CLUB SANDWICH (Fernando Eimbcke, Mexico) Eimbcke’s critically-admired follow-up to “Duck Season” and “Lake Tahoo,” a portrait of a mother’s final acceptance of her son’s passage into young adulthood, laced with humor and observational detail. S: Funny Balloons
CUT DOWN KITE (Diego Ayala, Anibal Jofre, Chile) The second favorite at Locarno’s Chile-focused Carte Blanche last August, the slight, but liked tale of across-the-tracks love between a juvenile detention center monitor and a 16-year-old inmate. Played Rome Festival competition.
THE EMPTY HOURS (Aaron Fernandez, 2013) One of Mexico’s most underrated up-and-coming directors, the Cannes’ Cinefondation-developed “Hours” delivers a stylish lonely hearts drama set at a sex motel which establishes Fernandez, who already impressed with his 2007 debut, “Used Parts,” as a talent to track. S: UDI
EL FACILITADOR (Victor Arregui, Ecuador) Father-son third feature from Arregui (“Fuera de juego,” “Cuando me toque a mi”), one of Ecuador’s most multi-prized cineastes. S: Media Luna
ILLITERATE (Moises Sepulveda, Chile) Audience Award a Best Picture in Chile Competition at August’s Santiago SANFIC Fest, co-starring Berlin best actress Paulina Garcia (“Gloria”) as a middle-aged woman learning to read in a magnificently acted two-hander which closed Venice’s Critics’ Week. S: Habanero Film Sales
LA JAULA DE ORO (Diego Quemada Diez) Cannes’ 2013 Un Certain Talent winner for its three leads – Rodolfo Dominguez, Karen Martínez, Brandon Lopez – an often ravishingly shot immigration thriller which shockingly refuses feel-good triumph over adversity. S: Films Boutique
LAST CALL (Francisco Franco, Mexico) Chronicling a dysfunctional theater troupe’s staging of Albert Camus’ “Caligula,” their behavior discrediting the play’s central theme, Franco’s follow-up to 2007’s “Burn the Bridges” won Guadalajara’s audience and actress award for its ensemble cast and opened October’s 3rd FICG in L.A. S: Habanero Film Sales
EL MUDO (Daniel and Diego Vega, Peru-Mexico-France) In their second pic “October” helmers Daniel and Diego Vega cock a snook at corruption in Peru, narrating the black farce of a judge whose tragic flaw is his honesty. Locarno Best Actor (Fernando Bacilio) winner. S: UDI
FOOSBALL (Juan Jose Campanella, Argentina-Spain) Campanella’s 3D kids-targeting toon follow-up to the Oscar-winning “The Secret in Their Eyes,” a big B.O. hit in Argentina, and Latin America’s biggest animated feature to date. S: Film Factory Ent.
THE LIBERATOR (Alberto Arevalo, Venezuela-Spain). Edgar Ramirez plays Simon Bolivar, the 19th century revolutionary who wrested independence for much of Latin America from Spain. A big-scale film by Latin American standards. S: Mundial
MUERTE EN BUENOS AIRES (Natalia Meta, Argentina) ‘80s uptown Buenos Aires-set noirer starring Oscar nominee Damien Bichir. Utopica’s Veronica Cura (“Las acacias”) produces. Receives a special presentation at Ventana Sur.
PARADISE FOR THE DAMNED (Alejandro Montiel, Argentina) A crime drama backed by Disney-owned Patagonik. One of KA Films’ strongest titles at Ventana Sur.
R. LORENA (Isidora Marras, Chile) Sanfic Latin American WIP Ventana Sur winner, which gains it a berth in Primer Corte, a genre-grafting identity theft romantic thriller from first-time helmer Marras.
SOME GIRLS (Santiago Palavecino, Argentina) Impeccable pedigreed – a Cannes Cinefondation Residence and Atelier title, Arte Prize winner at April’s BAL, and a highlight of BAL Goes To Cannes, Palavecino psychological thriller that explores female depression, enrolling genre trope from its setting at an isolated wood-enclosed country house on Pampa vast, spooky plains. No easy trip, but worth the ride.
THE SUMMER OF FLYING FISH (Marcela Said, Chile) One of the key distaff narrative debuts of 2013: a bittersweet coming of age tale as a teenage girl vacations at a lake house in Southern Chile. Critics have picked up as much on its oblique framing story of the girl’s rich, landed family’s denial of building indigenous community rebellion. S: Alpha Violet
TATTOO (Hilton Lacerda, Brazil) Lacerda’s first fiction feature, “Tattoo” won August’s Gramado Fest then scooped five prizes at October’s Rio Fest, sharing best film with “A Wolf at the Door.” Set at an anarchist drag-queen cabaret in 1978, as cracks began to appear in Brazil’s military dictatorship, its subject – libertinism as civil resistance – touched national nerves. S: Imovision
WAKOLDA (Lucia Puenzo, Argentina-France-Spain) Puenzo’s third feature, based on her novel, and a step-up in scale that takes nothing from an unsettling thriller-portrait of evil. A strong seller from its Cannes bow. S: Pyramide Intl.
WE ARE MARI PEPA (Samuel Kishi Leopo, Mexico) Kishi-Leopo’s debut, building on his same-titled short, a boisterous chronicle of adolescence via a 16-year-old and his wannabe Guadalajara punk band, established its crowd-pleasing credential at October’s Morelia Fest. S: FiGa Films
WE ARE THE NOBLES (Gaz Alazraki, Mexico) Mexico’s first 2013 B.O. juggernaut, proving there’s a local audience for well-turned-out entertainment-driven comedy with social overtones. Abroad, 35 territories closed, including the U.S. and four remake deals. S: FilmSharks Intl.
A WOLF AT THE DOOR (Fernando Coimbra, Brazil) Mundial’s first pick-up from Brazil, vindicated by wow bows and prizes at San Sebastian and Rio, which herald a major Brazilian talent, able to mix art-house sophistication with thriller drive. S: Mundial
THE WELL (Michael Rowe, Mexico) Rowe’s follow-up to Cannes Camera d’Or winning “Leap Year,” which consecrated him as one of the world’s directors to watch. Charting the consequences of parent’s divorce on a little girl, “The Well” world preemed at Morelia, competing in Rome but Ventana Sur is it’s first big market premiere. S: Mundial