BOGOTA – A driving force behind arthouse production in Colombia, Cali-based Contravia Films is teaming with Germany’s Bredok Film Production and France’s Cine-Sud Promotion to produce “Sal,” the next film by William Vega.
Bredok co-produced Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Cannes Palme d’Or winner “Winter’s Sleep.” Headed by Thierry Lenouvel, Cine-Sud was the French producer on Vega’s debut, “La Sirga,” that world premiered to an upbeat reception at Cannes 2012 Directors’ Fortnight.
Pitched as a project at the Bogota Audiovisual Market, “Sal” is just one of four Contravia productions at the mart. Headed by Oscar Ruiz Navia, Andrea Estrada and Gerylee Polanco Uribe, a three-producer team that allows Contravia to handle multiple titles at various stage of production. The FiGa Films-sold “Los Hongos,” Ruiz Navia’s second directorial outing, will world premiere at Locarno, competing in Filmmakers of the Present.
Helmed by Angela Osorio and Santiago Lozano, “Siembra” was presented in very early post-production at the BAM Tuesday; docu feature “En Transito,” from Liliana Hurtado and Mauricio Vergara, unspools at the Screenings Thursday.
The slate underscores the singular makeup of Contravia films. They are set in specific Colombian social contexts; that said, they do not portray them with straight-arrow realism. Films turn rather on their protagonists’ emotional journey which, however localized, is rarely local.
Shot principally in the Pacific’s Malpelo Island and the Tatacoa scrub desert (pictured) – two areas rarely lensed in films, Estrada said- and skedded to shoot in 2015, road movie “Sal” turns on Heraldo, man who takes a motorbike trip across a wild arid lands in search of traces of his missing father. In the high rocky mountains, an accident leaves him at death’s-door. His is cured with cactus and salt from a hermit couple, Salomon and Magdalena. But Heraldo’s wounds are signs of his scarred soul.
“’Sal’ explores the relationship of man, nature, destiny, and the never-ending struggle for wisdom,” Vega said.
“This is a movie about a man who wants answers and when he finds them discovers that they are useless. His real lesson, if he can gasp it, will be to recognize this.”
“William Vega calls ‘Sal’ a fable. It’s a fiction but based on his experience in, for example, the father-son relationship which develops between Salomon and Heraldo,” Estrada said.
Boasting fine development pedigree, “Sal” was written by Vega at the Cannes Festival’s Cinefondation-Residence, “Sal” won the Arte development prize at the Torino Film Lab Script & Pitch program. It has now been selected for Torino’s Framework Production Award in November, Estrada said. It has also pulled down Ibermedia development coin.
Set in Ruiz Navia’s native Cali, endowing the film with autobiographical tints, and using real-life graffiti artists, “Los Hongos” turns on two young graffiti artists, one a construction worker, another a fine arts student, who paint walls at night.
In some ways a coming-of-age tale, in “Los Hongos” “the boys move aimlessly through the city. Like two fungi, they will contaminate their surroundings with immense freedom. Their memories and desires will be shaped in the walls they will paint across their way,” Ruiz Navia said, calling the film a “documentary dream.”
Contravia produces “Los Hongos” with Colombia’s Burning Blue, France’s Arizona Films, Unafilms in Germany, and Argentina’s Campo Cine.
Like “Sal,” “Siembra” and “En transito” chart emotional odysseys. “Siembra” instances one singular case of urbanization. Turco, a 60-year-old fisherman, comes to the big city to live with his son, Yosser, aged 19. One night Yosser is killed. Turco organizes the vigil, buries his son, and discovers he now has a reason to stay in the city.
Shot in black-and-white, set in Cali, and with many Afro-Colombian actors, the vigil is for Turco not only part of a funeral but a farewell to the countryside where he grew up and where he thought he would lead his life, a kind of acceptance of the urban life,” said Osorio.
The traditional funeral rites are shot in a near unscripted docu-style, capturing the rich cultural heritage of these rites, she added. Release is set for 2015, Ruiz Navia said.
Autobiographical, docu-essay “En transito” is a record of co-director Liliana Hurtado’s emotional journey as she recovers from leukemia.
“’En transito’ is the story of a personal search, like our other films, about how Liliana’s leukemia allows her to reflect on death, love and life, what are reasons for living. Again it’s a kind of documentary dream,” said Gerylee Polanco.