‘Turned,’ ‘Fierce,’ ‘Gray Beyond’ Make Austin

15 projects from Latin America, U.S. and Spain announced for second genre pic project mart

LOCARNO – Andres Rosende’s “The Turned,” Francisco Lorite’s “Fierce” and Alejandro Fernandez Almendras’ “The Gray Beyond” feature in a mouth-watering selection of Latin American and U.S. genre projects at the Austin Fantastic Fest’s 2nd Fantastic Market.

Headed by fest’s lead programmer Rodney Perkins and director Kristen Bell, the Fantastic Market runs Sept. 18-20. It is co-produced by Mexico/L.A.’s Canana – launched by Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna and Pablo Cruz – and Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey network. Cristina Garza, VP of Mundial, Canana’s joint venture with IM Global, is sourcing projects from the region.

Coming in at U.S. immigration issues via a fantastic thriller movie format, in which vampires chase the American Dream Stateside working for the betterment of their children, “Turned” teams Rosende, in his first feature, with Mexican helmer-scribe Catalina Aguilar-Mastretta, whose directorial deb won Guadalajara Fest’s 2013 International Critics’ Award, and will be released theatrically in the U.S. and Mexico this fall.  “Echo Park,” her second feature script, premieres at this year’s L.A. Film Festival. Based out of L.A.’s LA Panda, Pau Brunet produces. His credits include Nacho Vigalondo’s “Open Windows,” with Elijah Wood and Sasha Gray, and “10,000 KM,” a 2014 SXSW Jury Special Mention winner for best acting duo.

“Fierce” is helmed by Spain-born Francisco Lorite, who caught heat with dark comedy short “Gomez, Gomez Is Dead!” It is produced by Patricia de Dios and Patrick Juarez for SoleniumGang, a subsid of Paris-based Gang Films, a top European commercials house, and Top Rebel Films, a new shingle launched by Lorite, actor Freddy Rodriguez (“Six Feet Under,” “Night Shift”) and producer Bill Winett.

Starring Rodriguez, “Fierce” weighs in as a dark thriller about a best-selling author of pulp-novels fighting to save his family from a man who may or may not be a deranged fan.

An English-language sci-fi drama, “The Gray Matter” is one movie in a two-pic alliance between Chile’s Fernandez Almendras, a 2014 Sundance World Cinema Grand Jury Prize winner with “To Kill a Man,” and Augusto Matte-headed Jirafa (“Il Futuro,” “Summer of Flying Fish”). An end-of-the-world drama set at the end of the world, in Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales, near Patagonia’s landmark Paine Towers, “Gray Beyond” is co-produced by Jirafa and Japan-based Wa Entertainment, the production house of actress-producer Kiki Sugino (“Kyoto Elegy, “Two Rabbits in Osaka”).

Of U.S.-based Latin American helmers, Caracas-born Eduardo Rodriguez, now a near-vet with credits from “Curandero” to “Stash House” and franchise reboot “Fright Night 2,” has ”The Darkness of the Road,” produced by “Armored’s” Chris Lemos and Luis Guerrero.

Yank Pablo Proenza, the son of Cuban-Americans whose 2007 cult item “Dark Mirror” was screened in IFC’s Festival Direct progam, will present “Hurt,” produced by wife Erin Ploss-Campoamor (“Las Marthas,” “Dark Mirror”). Producer Erick Salomon unveils “The Shadowdwellers.”

“The public response to this year’s call for submissions was astounding,” says market director Perkins. “The 15 selected projects represent a diverse mix of talent from the United States and abroad. We are extremely pleased to present these filmmakers to the world.”

What impresses most about the 2nd Fantastic Market line-up is the balance between established genre helmers and first-time directors from in and outside the U.S and the calibre of many project’s producers, often better known as directors or for more-arthouse fare.

Famed for helming “La casa muda” and now “Local God,” for instance, Gustavo Hernandez is teaming with Ignacio Garcia Cucucovich and Pablo Gonzalez, his partners at Montevideo’s Mother Superior Films, to produce “The Waking Hours,” the directorial debut of the company’s in-house screenwriter Santiago Gonzalez, who penned “Local God” and was a co-scribe on Hernandez’s “Small Town.”

In the industrial line of “La casa muda,” “Waking Hours” has four characters, and a very impactful story with a lot of conflict,” Cucucovich told Variety.

Directed by Rodrigo Susarte, who helmed suicide drama “Ventana,” “Invunche” is set up at Chile’s Forastero Films, which broke through Sebastian Silva’s “The Maid.” Josefina Undurraga (“Perez”) and new producer-partner Florencia Larrea (“Aurora,” “Crystal Fairy”) produce.

Another example: Working out of 5th Avenida, “Juan of the Dead” director Alejandro Brugues and producer Claudia Calvino are teaming to produce “Havana: Vampire Territory,” which is set in 1994 Havana where the break-up of the Soviet Union forces the Cuban community of vampires to ration the human blood as a measure to counter the economic crisis in the island. In such a context, Carlos, an inexperienced vampire, must stop the killing started by the fearful Max in his insatiable bloodlust.

Among other projects, “Offspring” marks the directorial debut of Federico Duran at Colombia’s Rhayuela, producer of Wild Bunch-sold “The Squad.”

Directed by Colombia’s Orozco, who helmed 2011 vengeance thriller “Greetings to the Devil,” with Edgar Ramirez (“Carlos”), “The Shore” packs a powerful Mexican production team of Alexis Fridman (“Mexico’s Most Wanted,” “After Lucia”) and Lemon Films co-topper Fernando Rovzar (“Casa de mi padre,” “The Last Death,” “Saving Private Ryan”).

Of name Latin American genre directors, Mexico’s Antonio Zavala Kruger (“The Walls Talk,” “Desire”) will talk up “Lunik 3,” a Cold War space-race black comedy produced by Zavala Kruger’s Jade Films in Mexico, London’s Framestore and producer David. P Kelly.

Argentina’s Emiliano Romero will take producers through “Guilty,” a serial killer amor fou meller about a homme-fatale who kills beautiful women to the music of tango – until a male detective changes sex to attract and trap him.   Presented with a humor-laced floorshow at Ventana Sur’s Blood Window, and produced by Joao Fleck and Nicolas Tonsho, “Guilty” is set up as an Argentina-Brazil co-production.

Also at Blood Window, “Eat Me,” directed by Mexico’s David Michan (“Adverse Effects”), turns on a sybarite-turned-cannibal. Deborah Calla (“A Beautiful Life”) produces.

From Spain, David Munoz’ and Adrian Cardona are prepping biblical genre comedy “Once Upon a Time in Jerusalem,” a feature follow-up to the duo’s multi-prized, 15-minute “Fist of Jesus.”

Kudos include nine audience awards, spread between Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Germany and the Los Angeles’ 2nd Phenom Film Fest.

Written by Munoz, “Fist” received three million Internet impacts. The short depicts a just-starting-on-the-job Jesus mucking up Lazarus’ return from the dead, sparking a zombie outbreak and a bloodbath as Jesus, soon warming to the task, chomps through the walking dead with a miraculously fortified swordfish. Munoz has called “Once Upon a Time” “’Mad Max meets the New Testament.”

Fantastic Market is part of Fantastic Fest, which runs Sept. 18-25, 2014 in Austin Texas.

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