MADRID – Oscar Ruiz Navia’s “Fait Vivir,” Gustavo Rosa de Moura’s “Coming Back Home” and Juan Ignacio Sabatini’s “Los Fusileros” feature among projects and productions to be pitched by a new generation of Latin American directors-producers at the Locarno Festival’s inaugural Match Me!, an informal networking platform.
Drawn from Mexico, Chile, Colombia and Brazil, the 14 filmmakers include past Locarno winners – Tatiana Leite, Oscar Ruiz Navoa — and a chance to meet young producers – few are north of 40 — who are reforging the production in Latin America as the region still powers up production and grabs market share. At 62.4 million, 2014 admissions to local films in eight main Latin American territories nose-dived 16.9% on 2013, the European Audiovisual Observatory announced at Cannes. But, in a generally off year, 62.4 million ticket sales is still “well above” Latin American box office levels prior to 2012, the EAO observed.
Though down by 2.7%, production levels in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela — the eight countries surveyed by the EAO — are still at 477 features, double 2006’s figure.
A matchmaking forum, with Locarno Industry Days tailoring one-to-ones and group meetings for attendees, with sales agents, distributors and industry experts, Match Me! unspools Aug. 8-10 during the Locarno Fest’s Industry Days. It plays off the relations established between Locarno and Latin American filmmakers and agencies – Proimagenes, IMCINE, Cinemachile and Cinema do Brasil — after Colombia, Mexico, Chile and Brazil were the subjects, for four years running, of First Look pix-in-post showcases at the Swiss Fest.
Produced by Gerylee Polanco at Ruiz Navia’s Contravia Films, based out of Colombia’s Cali, docu feature “Fait Vuvir” records the impact of Montreal’s spectacular Gypsy Kumbia Orchestra, which combines Balcan rhythms and Caribbean Cumbia on a benighted tropical village that has banned dances and partying in times of war. Director of “Crab Trap” and “Los Hongos,” winner of Locarno’s 2014 Filmmakers of the Present special jury prize, Ruiz Navia is directing. Contravia also produces “Siembra,” which screens in 2015’s Filmmakers of the Present.
An international artpic production house, founded by husband-wife team Rosa de Moura and Marina Person, Brazil’s Mira Filmes broke through with Person’s “California,” an ’80-set feel-good coming-of-age movie, laced with lashings of pop culture, which grabbed a brace of prizes at Ventana Sur’s 2014 Primer Corte pix-in-post showcase.
At Locarno, director-producer Rosa de Moura will pitch “Coming Back Home,” a relationship drama about a husband’s attempts to understand the suicide attempt of his wife (played by Person). Also on Mira’s slate: new films by both Moura and Person, Moura said.
“Match Me!” also underscores driving trends in Latin American cinema: arthouse’s slippage toward the mainstream; the powering up of national documentary industries; and the build of genre — horror movies, thrillers — and the use of genre tropes.
Cast as a political crime thriller, for example, “Los Fusileros,” from Chile’s Juan Ignacio Sabatini, narrates the true-life 1986 commando assassination attempt on dictator Augusto Pinochet. It is set up at Chile’s Villano. Sabatini attends Match Me! Movie will be shot in a realist fashion, centering on the young members of the hit squad, per Sabatini.
Of straighter genre movies, “Wolf’s Breath,” another Match Me! project, is helmed by Colombia’s Alfonso Acosta, whose debut “The Crack,” a grieving family drama, was picked up by eOne Intl. “Breath” is set up at Cabecitanegra Producciones, which Acosta founded with Carolina Mosquera in 2009. “Cold, quiet, brutal,” in Acosta’s words, it turns on a woman’s return to the village where she was born — a place horrified by legends of femme shape-shifters who seduce and kill men — just as she begins to regress to the state of a she-wolf.
Porto Alegre-based, Tokyo Filmes’ Paola Wink will talk up “Until the Way,” Davi Pretto’s follow-up to memorable Berlin 2014 docu/fiction portrait “Castanha.” Written by Richard Tavares and Pretto, “Way” is somewhere between a road movie, a Western and a suspense” film, Pretto told Variety. Shooting in October, “Way” is co-produced by Germany’s Autentika Films, Wink added.
Of documentaries, Isabel Orellana, from Chile’s Araucaria Cine, producer of Roberto Collio’s “White Death,” a haunting chiaroscuro animated docu feature, will present, among multiple projects, Collio’s docu feature debut, “Petit Frere.” Written with co-director Rodrigo Robledo, about Wilmer Petit Frere, a Haitian immigrant in Santiago de Chile. It is a “happy film celebrating co-habitation,” Collio has said.
Match Me! will welcome five femme filmmakers, all producers, including Aleteia Selonk at Okna Producciones, a second production house based out of Brazil’s Porto Alegre, and Tatiana Leite at Bubbles Project, whose very first production, “Hopefuls,” about the dangerously growing frustrations of a young soccer player, won Locarno’s 2014 First Look. With now five movies in development – Gustavo Pizzi’s “Loveling,” Julia Murat’s “Pendular,” Christianne Jahaty’s “Other Times,” “Nona” and Maria Alche’s “Immersed Family” – four co-pros with Latin America and/or Europe — Bubbles is one sign of just how fast Latin America’s industry is still growing, and its significantly raised appetite for international co-production.
Some Match Me! titles admit a social reading. Founded by graduates of the Polish National Film School, and with offices in Mexico City, Warsaw and Delhi, and aiming to locally produce and internationally co-produce features, docus and vidclips, said Amondo’s Joaquin del Paso, Amondo Films’ current slate includes “Maquinaria Panamericana,” seen at Toulouse CineLatino Fest’s Films in Progress this March.
The tale of a heavy machinery factory that seems to have survived with very little change down the years until it is suddenly plunged – in what seems social allegory — into crisis, “Maquinaria” is helmed by Del Paso, who will attend Locarno. Amondo, new Mexican shingle Black Maria and Carlos Reygadas producer Mantarraya take producer credits.
Also attended by Alexandro Alderete at Mexico’s Agencia Bengala, which creates and reps narrative content, many Match Me! projects fall, however, in a middle ground: They may treat social issues, but they’re largely in the background; social issue tinged, they remain character driven portraits or relationship dramas.
Behind Camila Jose Donoso’s “Naomi Campbel” and Roberto Doveris’ “The Plants,” a standout at Cannes Film Market’s 2015 BAL Goes to Cannes, Daniela Camino, a producer at fast-building Mimbre Producciones, will present Donoso’s “Nona.” The portrait of Josefina, a maverick – a Molotov Cocktail creator, arsonist, former bohemian – but now 66 years -old and supposedly living quietly on the coast, “Nona” is co-produced by Mimbre, Bubbles Project and Alexa Rivero, a former producer at France’s Memento Films who has now hung her own shingle, Altamar Films.
Founded in 2013, and with two docu-features under its belt – “Parque Lenin” and “Casa Blanca” — Mexico-based Nomadas will unveil its fiction feature debut “Low Season,” an off-set Acapulco-set second-chance woman’s drama with two of Mexico’s finest up-and-coming actresses – Ilse Salas (“Gueros”) and Paulina Gaitan (“Sin nombre”) – attached for the lead roles.
Producer of Carlos Moreno’s “Dog Eat Dog,” the movie that brought down the flag on a new generation of Colombian cinema, Antorcha Films’ Jhonny Hendrix will write and direct “Candelaria,” another Match Me! project. Billed as a tragicomedy, “Candelaria” is set in 1994 Cuba, a world of shortages, blackouts and rum. There an ageing couple spice up their sex life shooting hi8 vid camera home movies. Then the camera is stolen, taking their erotic movies to another level. “Candelaria” talks about how people react to macro historical change, the tyranny of poverty. It is also, however, a love story.