Jirafa, REI Cine, De Facto Team for Said’s ‘Los Perros’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Top Chilean outfit Jirafa also drives into genre, animation

BUENOS AIRES – Benjamin Domenech’s REI Cine, producer of Lucrecia Martel’s upcoming “Zama,” a co-production with Pedro and Agustin’s Almodovar’s El Deseo, has broadening its involvement in cutting edge Latin American distaff directors, boarding Marcela Said’s “Los Perros.”

Lead-produced by Jirafa Films, a top Chilean production house, “Los Perros” is now structured as a Chile (Jirafa), France (Cinema de Facto), and Argentina (REI Cine) co-production. Sophie Erbs produces for Cinema de Facto.

Also written by Said, “Los Perros” is maybe the first feature to ask – and it’s a very uncomfortable question – about Chileans’ tacit compliance with Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship.

“This is the first film to suggest the close relationship between civilians and Pinochet’s regime,” Jirafa Films Augusto Matte said at Ventana Sur.

Put through the Sundance Lab and Cannes Cinefondation Residence, it also marks Said’s follow-up to “The Summer of Flying Fish,” which world premiered in Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight and went on to become one of the new Latin American AMC-Sundance Channel’s first two pick-ups, announced at Ventana Sur last year.

While “Flying Fish” questioned the Chilean upper-classes’ disavowal of political realities, “Los Perros” once again returns to the same social class to ask a more difficult question, suggesting the line between good and evil, as Said has said, may be thinner than we believe. It turns on Mariana, 40, married to a workaholic economist, part of a sexist and violent society where Chilean bourgeois women are reduced to their marital remits: Raising children and tolerating their husbands.

She starts taking riding lessons, from an exquisitely mannered retired colonel, Juan (70) with whom she develops an awkward and obsessive relationship, who becomes her instructor, mentor and object of desire.

But the colonel is being prosecuted for his role in the Pinochet regime’s torture and murder of dissidents. And Mariana discovers that her own family may have been far closer to the dictatorship than she imagined.

“Los Peros” is a Chilean but also universal story. The idea than man is not reduced to an act is central in its argument. I want to talk about love, hate, violence, forgiveness and redemption,” Said has said.

Currently in advanced development, “Los Perros’” international co-production comes as Jirafa drives hard into diversification, and two types of younger audience skewing productions – genre and animation – still unusual for Chile, developing Alejandro Fernandez Almendras’ end-of-the-world love story “The Gray Beyond,” co-produced with Kiki Sugino’s Wa Ent. in Japan, and German Acuna’s 2D magic world adventure “Levisterio.”

“’Levisterio’ is the first animation film made in Chile for family audiences in seven years,” Matte said.

Further projects include rock music scene set “La Indomita Luz,” also from Almendras, and Christopher Murray’s “Parable of a Blind Christ,” far more of a art film.

To take on the new slate, Jirafa has tapped Pedro Fontaine as a second producer.

“I believe in diversification, for films to be seen by audiences. I am not aiming to make only pieces of art that go around the world in festivals, For me, cinema is a way of transforming the thoughts of people,” Matte concluded.

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