Ballroom, directed by Ivan Porras
Courtesy: Dos Sentidos

Line-up showcases 20 first time features, and a notable fascination among young Latin directors with older generations

GUADALAJARA, Mexico – “The Extraordinary Journey of Celeste Garcia,” Arturo Infante’s arresting sci-fi allegory for Cuba’s current state, joins “Unknown Family,” a project from Alex Garcia’s Itaca Films and “The Man From the Future,” produced by Chile’s high-flying Giancarlo Nasi, in the 30-project lineup at the Guadalajara’s Fest’s 12th Co-Production Meeting.

The Mexican fest’s centerpiece industry event – for its size; prize money: Pesos 11.9 million ($650,000) in sponsors’ services or equipment; and attending producers – the Co-Pro Meeting runs March 6-8. Argos Cine’s offer to co-produce three 12th GDL Co-Production Meeting winners, investing $164,000 a shot, has greatly goosed prize money.

Two-thirds of its 30 projects are potential first features, among them, notably, “Rosa Maria,” from Colombia’s Diego Vivanco, scribe of “El Paramo” and “Alias Maria,” plus domestic repression drama “Another Lake” from Chile’s Francisca Silva, and the intriguing “My Favorite Birthday,” from Mexico’s Agustín Tapia Muñoz

More surprisingly, nearly one third of titles have protagonists who are knocking 50, or older. Fancied future features also include “Ballroom,” “Candelaria,” Colombian Jhonny Hendrix’s tragicomedy about a 60-plus couple revitalizing their sex life, and “Asfixia,” from Mexico’s Kenya Marquez, about a ex-con mother battling for her daughter’s custody. Notably, many of these titles are second or last-chance tales featuring middle-aged or much-older characters struggling for freedom from past repression – whether of work or political regime — as Latin American filmmakers calculate the region’s real progress in recent years.

The Co-Pro meeting will also afford the chance to catch up on state-of-industry play on two appreciated projects, “I’m No Longer Here,” from Mexico’s Francisco Frías, which was put through a 2014 Sundance Screenwriters Lab, and “August,” from Armando Capo, which made the cut of Cannes’ sixth Cinemas du Monde selection.

Much in the line of breakout sales hit “Juan of the Dead,” “The Extraordinary Journey of Celeste Garcia” weighs in as broad political allegory as an alien civilization (read the U.S.?) offers earthlings, including Cubans, a one-way trip to their planet. Claudia Calviño and Alejandro Tovar produce at top Cuban shingle Producciones de la 5ta Avenida, the company behind “Juan.” “One of the constants of the work of Arturo Infante is the frustration, disillusionment and skepticism of older generations, the generation of our fathers who constructed and gave their best years for the Revolution,” Calviño told Variety.

The first feature of Chile’s Felipe Rios, “The Man From the Future” is a redemption/road movie featuring a truck driver on his last long-haul journey, to Chile’s southern-most tip.

Set up at Itaca Films, part of Alex Garcia’s AG Studios, Ron Termaat’s “Unknown Family” centers on a rich young girl who visits her Mexican family, which changes the way she sees the world.

Projects tap partners such as the Ibermedia film-TV support fund, Santiago de Chile’s SANFIC, and the Nuevas Miradas forum at the legendary International Film and TV School at San Antonio de los Baños, Cuba, which unspools during the Havana Festival. Guadalajara guest country of honor Switzerland contributes one project: “A Stray Bullet.” One project winner will be selected for June’s U.S. Latino market focused NALIP Media Summit, another, a docu-feature, to New York’s 62nd Robert Flaherty Film Seminar.

Packing a powerful political punch – like another Co-Pro Meeting project, Alberto Arnaut’s docu-feature “Armed to the Teeth,” about the Mexican army’s slaughter of two students, which they passed off as narco gang sicarios – Vivanco’s “Rosa María” centers on a Colombia woman who, investigating her son’s supposed death in combat, unearths the so-called false-positives scandal, a true-life Colombian army recompense scheme based on soldiers’ body-count, which led to the murder of poor or mentally impaired civilians.

Of other potentially intriguing debuts, Chilean actress-turned-director Francisca Silva’s “Another Lake” features a young teen whose repressive medic father attributes her wild adolescence to a personality disorder. Helmer Nayra Ilic (“Square Meter”) produces.

And in “My Favorite Birthday,” from Mexico’s Agustín Tapia Muñoz, an 8-year-old girl’s puppet theater exposes the world of lust, betrayal and crime of her parents.

Jury panel members, and production service/equipment donors, take in Epigmenio Ibarra and Marco Antonio Salgado, at Mexican film-TV giant Argos; Maru Farias, head of new projects at Equipment & Film Design (EFD), and Mexican equipment and rentals co with L.A. offices, vet Bosco Arochi, who heads up production at Mexico City’s Esudios Churubusco, its main soundstage facility. Also on the panel: Benjamin Lopez, projects director at the National Assn. of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP), Raymundo Osorio Garcia, general manager at post-production company New Art Digital, and Chilean producer Adrian Silva at Creas Films (“White Darkness,” “Aquarium”).

Some projects segue from prestige events. Yoking two of Mexico’s most enterprising young companies, Varios Lobos and Panorama, Frias’ Sundance Lab developed “I’m No Longer Here,” centering on a 17-year-old Cholombiano, a Mexican urban tribe member, forced to emigrate from Monterrey to Queens, where his counter-culture is seen as a commodity.

Produced by Costa Rica’s La Feria Producciones, and presented in very early development at 2014’s Cannes, Cuban Armando Capo’s “August” is a coming-of-age-tale, set in 1994 Cuba, when the Soviet Union’s collapse sparked desperate food and energy shortages and attempts at mass exodus. The diaspora feeds into a young teen’s distress at his goodbye to a stable childhood.

Some Co-production Competition entries, mostly docu-features (see below), are still social issue oriented. Produced by multi-prized director-producer Roberto Fiesco (“Quebranto), “Asfixia,” a family drama, marks Kenya Marquez’s follow-up to 2012’s Morelia hit and Miami winner “Expiration Date.” In it, an albino woman leaves jail and battles to regain custody of her daughter.

“The Barbaric,” from Argentina’s Andrew Sala, turns on a shy adolescent, dispatched to his father’s cow breeding ranch, subjected to initiation rites such as raping a girl, whom he falls in love with. Edgar Sajcabun’s “Mars at Nightfall” is a slice of Guatemalan neo-realism, as a boy loses his family’s electricity payment; “Nobody on the Other Side,” directed by Colombia’s Esteban Giraldo Gonzalez, weighs in as a woman’s drama, set against the background of Colombia’s civil conflict.

Other Co-Production Meetings titles illustrate the in-part restructuring of international cinema — which is not limited to Latin America or Spain – with the growth of niche, alternative mainstream entertainment, which appeals to audiences through its local relevance and referents. In David Lipszyc’s “The Comandante’s Hearse,” an undertaker attempts to retrieve his hearse, a tony glass-sided ’98 Lincoln he donated for Hugo Chavez’s funeral.

Some titles turn on mainstream cinema staples such as family and love, with seeming little social heft.

“Nights of July,” from Mexico’s Axel Muñoz, for instance, is a fantasizing love story, between two young petty housebreakers.

The mainstream thrust is especially true of Spain where, with limited government-support, commercial arthouse cinema is becoming a thing of the past. “Eco” is the fantasy thriller debut of Ahinoa Menendez, about two femme friends’ brush with the mob after one begins to hear other people’s thoughts. By a large head, the biggest-budgeted of Guadalajara projects, the $2.7 million-budgeted “Spanish Avengers” centers on three friends who, disguised as Spanish Avengers, attempt to spring a fourth from a Mexican jail.

The buddies are all knocking 50. The latest from Colombian producer-turned director Jhonny Hendrix (“Choco”), set up already as a Colombia (Antorcha Films)/Germany (Razor Film) co-production, “Candelaria” features an ageing Cuban couple who discover a way to spice up their sexual relaions. Both husband and wife are over 60.

Billed as a “tropical geriatric comedy,” Costa Rican Ivan Porras’ last-chance drama “The Ballroom” has a 72-year-old ex soccer-player, who never won anything, attempting to win a tropical dance contest.

“What we have is a generation of baby boomers which lived the repression of a conservative society and now reach the third-age and a turning point,” said Porras.

He added: “They don’t have to dedicate themselves to work because they have pensions, many are divorced or free from oppressive marriages and many others initiate personal searches they’ve put off. It’s a very singular age which implies reinvention and change.”

In “Ronnie Monroy Loves Them All,” from Peru’s Josue Mendez, a Cannes Residence alum and producer of “The Bad Intentions” and “Oliver’s Deal,” a 60-year-old flirts with women in jail, though married with two kids.

“The Weak,” Uruguayan Matias Ganz’s social paranoia tale, centers on a man who, thinking his immigrant maids are conspiring against him, drags his family to a bloody end. “The Weak” mocks the classist, discriminatory mindset of Uruguay’s upper-class, Ganz has said.

From Costa Rica’s Roberto Jaen, “The Legion of the Superbrokes” chronicles government office workers buying a bar. As often at Guadalajara, many of the most compelling entries at the Co-Production Meeting may be docu-features chronicling a region, Latin America, where truth is not just stranger but narratively stronger than fiction.



Mexican Alberto Arnaut’s investigative movie, departing from the announcement in 2010 by the Mexican government’s of the death of two heavily armed hitmen in Monterrey. It transpired a few days later that they were students, who had been tortured and murdered by the military.


Colombian Patricia Ayala Ruiz’s “Bridges Over the Sea,” about a wooden shack village built over Pacific.

“EL 9”

First docu-feature from Maria de los Angeles Martinez, a Mexican Academy Ariel-winning art director, about the iconic 1980s Mexican nightclub, El 9.


Brazilian Gabriela Francischelli’s movie about U.S. shutterbug Gordon Parks’ photo-shoot of young Flavio da Silva family’s hardships in the slums of Rio de Janeiro.


About three women Alzheimer’s victims, all exiles, directed by David Castañon


A family portrait set in Guerrero, among Mexico’s poorest and most violent states.


Three transgender women battle for official recognition of their name and gender in Brazil. Juliana Chagas directs.


“A Stray Bullet,” U.S.-Swiss docu-feature from Juan-Cosme Delaloye, about the death of Genesis Rincon, aged 12, in a gang shootout in Peterson, New Jersey.


Culture docu-feature, about the impact of Golden Age Mexican cinema on former-Yugoslavia.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0