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Colombia’s Ivan Gaona on Music, Sergio Leone and Heartbreak in ‘Pariente’

Films Boutique to present Western at Ventana Sur market, which segues to the Havana Int’l Film Fest

Sergio Leone and a broken heart inspired Ivan Gaona’s directorial debut, “Pariente” (Guilty Men). Set in Santander, Colombia’s most “Texan” of states with its gun-friendly, heavy-accented populace, “Pariente” is punctuated by a wry musical soundtrack of rancheros and romantic ballads.

“My ex-girlfriend loved romantic ballads while I preferred rancheros,” he said. Just as he endured a love triangle, “Pariente” features two men tussling over a woman against a backdrop of the paramilitary scourge that plagued the Colombian countryside in the past. “I sought to capture the tone of my hero Sergio Leone’s films like in “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” said Gaona. As an assistant director in such notable films as Ciro Guerra’s “Los Viajes del Viento,” Andi Baiz’s “Roa” and Juan Andres Arango’s “La Playa D.C.,” Gaona honed his skills in prepping actors for their roles. Working with non-pros, he and producer Diana Perez Mejia took six months to train their actors. “It seems illogical for a director not to take charge of his actors’ training,” he said.

Gaona is on the third draft of his next pic, “Mujer Primavera,” a love story set in Bogota.

Made for just $500,000, “Pariente” bowed at the Venice and Toronto film fests, with Berlin-based int’l sales outfit Films Boutique snapping it up just before its world premiere on the Lido. Foreign sales are underway at Ventana Sur, to be followed by its screening at the Havana Int’l Film Festival of New Latin American Cinema, which runs Dec. 8-18.

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