Ballesteros, Echarri Set ‘America’s Affaire’

BOGOTA – Colombia’s Anderson Ballesteros (“Our Lady of the Assassins”) and Argentina’s Pablo Echarri (“Plata Quemada”) are attached to topline “America’s Affaire,” a movie about the meeting of the founding fathers of Latin American independence: Argentina’s Jose de San Martin and Venezuelan Simon Bolivar.

Echarri plays San Martin, Ballesteros Bolivar, the celebrated freedom-fighting idol of Hugo Chavez. Argentine film/TV director Nicolas Capelli (“Kill the Director”) will helm.

Taking place in 1822, the so-called Guayaquil Conference saw Bolivar take over San Martin’s liberation of Peru from Spanish control while an isolated and disillusioned San Martin, who had wrested Argentina and Chile from Spanish hegemony, left Guayaquil to soon sail to exile in France.

“Affaire” is set up at Bogota-based Rhayuela Cine, the company behind Jaime Osorio’s Wild Bunch-sold “El paramo.” Osorio now has follow-up “Asylum” in development.

Shaping a building production slate whose films mix social issues, genre and entertainment, Rhayuela also world premieredWednesday of last week the trailer for teen guerrilla girl drama “Alias Maria” at a party it threw at the Bogota Audiovisual Market (BAM).

“Affaire” exemplifies the fast-growing diversification of Colombian cinema. It also marks the fourth co-production between the top Colombian shingle and Argentina’s Sudestada Cine, whose recent credits include the Memento Films Intl.-sold Cannes Directors’ Fortnight hit “Refugiado.”

Argentina’s Macanudos Productions and Simple Codigo also produce.

In pre-production, “Affaire” looks set to deliver a revisionist take on a turning point in Latin American history, far removed from most hagiographical write-ups. Bolivar had already assumed dictatorial powers in the north-west of South America; San Martin, rather arcanely for a revolutionary, favored turning Peru into a monarchy.

Above all, however, “Affaire” will focus on the two liberators’ “human aspect, vices, successes and fears,” per Capelli.

Also written by Capelli, narrative will punctuate the meeting with frequent flashbacks to their rise to power, battles, and loves. The Conference will also feature the men’s mistresses, Rosa Campusano and Manuela Sanz, each attracted by the other’s lover.

Including a web series and feature-length docu “Alias: Ginette,” and workshops with children, “Maria,” a vision of child-soldiers in Colombia, turns on a touchstone dilemma seen in a clutch of key titles and projects at this year’s BAM, where a protagonist is forced to choose between a life of violence or a life-enhancing action, which entails the abandonment of conflict.  Here, a 13-year-old girl guerrilla soldier discovers she’s pregnant. The guerrilla local high command pressures her to give up her child. An “intimate drama,” “Alias: Maria” is an attempt to dissuade young audiences from taking up arms in Colombia, said Rhayuela’s Federico Duran.

The average age of recruits in Colombia in 2013 was 12.5 years of age. Some sources assure that nearly 50% of combatants are under-18, and almost half of these under 15, he added.

In a further instance of diversification in film production, Rhayuela is teaming with Chile’s Invercine Producciones and Mexico’s Filmadora Nacional on Andres Waissbluth’s “A Horse Called Elephant” (aka “Little Brothers”).

A fiction film and play for family audiences which are often overlooked by Latin American cinema, “Horse” turns on true events, when Lalo and Roberto Parra, the younger brothers of Violeta Parra, took off as kids in 1929 to join the circus, earn money for their impoverished family and get to know the world.

“Maria” is skedded for release first half 2015.

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more