Unveiling a rough-cut of his buzzed-up feature debut “Arpón” (Harpoon) at Ventana Sur, Caracas-born Tom Espinoza is developing his second directorial outing, “No crecerás” (“You Won’t Grow Up”), about the makings of a tween TV star. Espinoza is also working on “Corruption,” a TV series to be co-produced between U.S. and Venezuela’s companies.
“You Won’t Grow Up” turns on how the channel broadcasting the young star’s show deprives her of her sexual awakening. “It will be based on my five years working for Disney,” Espinoza said.
Looking forward, the cinema the Argentina-based director would like to make would combine “dark humor, cynicism and beauty as key story points,” according to Espinoza.
Some of that can be seen in “Harpoon,” the story of a high-school principal, Germán Arguello, who is slowly going off the rails, and his confrontational relationship with Cata, a 14-year-old student whom the principal suspects of drug abuse after he finds a syringe in her bag.
When Arguello is forced to take care of Cata after she has a minor accident, he learns to appreciate her in a different light. Her’s is not an easy adolescence. But Arguello’s misguided efforts to protect her have disastrous consequences.
Espinoza studied social communication in Venezuela and served as an assistant director in TV and advertising. He has also worked as a creative writer-producer for Disney Channel in Argentina. Espinoza’s latest short, “Las arácnidas,” premiered at Clermont-Ferrand in 2015.
Making “Harpoon,” Espinoza watched movies by Iran’s Asghar Farhadi and France’s Abdellatif Kechiche.
“To grow up is to leave behind waste, wounded dead people. It’s also to rebel against something, to change, and changes means pain,” Espinoza said.
“In some tribes in Africa, women put steel hoops around the neck to lengthen it. It’s the same with breast silicone in our society. Beauty is the strongest demagogic vehicle that exists,” Espinoza insisted.
“Harpoon” is produced by Buenos Aires’ Aramos Cine, founded by Roxana Ramos and Martín Aliaga in 2012, which has co-produced with Colombia’s Oscar submission “Alias Maria,” acquired for the U.S. by Outsider Pictures’ specialty label Todo Cine Latino.