LIMA – Colombian helmer Felipe Guerrero’s feature debut “Oscuro Animal” (“Dark Beast”) snagged both the best film prize and int’l critics award at the 20th Lima Film Festival, which wrapped Saturday. The Gema Films-Mutokino co-production is on a winning streak, having just won the top awards at the March 2016 Guadalajara Int’l Film Fest, including Best Ibero-American Film, director and actress for all three actresses in the nearly dialogue-free triptych.
At the closing ceremony, transmitted live on TV Peru, a tearful Gema Juarez-Allen of Gema Films thanked the film’s crew, its three actresses and the film funds which helped get the film made.
The official selection jury comprised of Ciro Guerra, Karim Ainouz, Daniela Michel, Ezequiel Acuna and Alonso Cueto also awarded Kleber Mendonca Filho’s 1940s-set drama “Aquarius” of Brazil with a special jury prize and a best actress award to Sonia Braga for her performance in the pic. Venezuelan Lorenzo Vigas took home best director for his Venice Golden Lion-winning drama “From Afar.” Ecuador’s Ana Cristina Barragan won the best debut feature award as well as the 2016 Premio APC from the Peruvian communications association for her coming-of-age pic, “Alba.”
In the documentary competition, Mexico’s Tatiana Huezo and her moving docu “Tempestad,” which first came to light as a work-in-progress at the Morelia Film Festival last year, won Best Documentary for its “ability to narrate a long journey into the heart of a nation besieged by dark clouds of injustice.” The docs jury led by Nicolas Echevarria, Gema Juarez-Allen and Aldo Garay also granted a special mention to “El Dorado XXI” by Portugal’s Salome Lamas, whose haunting docu about the Andean villages of La Rinconada and Cerro Lunar, deemed the highest villages in the world, “provides a singular cinematographic vision of a remote world.”
Both docs dominated a selection of strong titles that included Maya Goded’s 2015 Morelia work-in-progress and Sundance 2016 entry, “Plaza de la Soledad,” about ageing prostitutes in Mexico’s ancient La Merced barrio, and “When Two Worlds Collide,” co-directed by Peruvian-German Heidi Brandenburg and Welsh helmer Matthew Orzel, which pivots on the conflict in the Amazon between government forces and the indigenous populace. The Sundance-winning docu, produced by Taira Akbar, is slated for release across Latin America by Disney-owned Cinecolor and a U.S. platform release by First Run Features, starting August 17.
A special jury set up by the Ministry of Culture to assess all the Peruvian films in competition across all sections chose Adrian Saba’s “El Sonador” for its “ability to weave a moving human portrait of disadvantaged and vulnerable beings whose only escape is through their dreams.”
The festival kicked off Aug. 5 on an optimistic note when the new Minister of Culture Jorge Nieto Montesinos drew resounding cheers when he pledged to oversee a much-needed overhaul of Peru’s 1994 film law, although some skeptics note that past administrations have given similar promises.
The new Peruvian administration’s commitment – led by President-elect Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (aka PPK) – to upgrading its support for local culture comes at a time when its Latin American neighbors Ecuador and Panama have had to freeze their national film funds for either changes in administration, or more pressing economic issues taking precedence. Panama’s new government is said to be reinstating the film fund this year. Meanwhile, hyperinflation has seen a depletion of Venezuela’s once-enviable film fund.
“We proposed a film law draft in 2014 but it didn’t pass,” said Pierre Emile Vandoorne, head of the culture ministry’s audiovisual division, which controls a nearly $3 million fund. Amending the film law would entail securing the approval of the other ministries and an act of congress to pass, so Vandoorne is calculating a six-month process. The new film law needs to facilitate co-productions with other countries, and take into account the proliferation of digital platforms and other advances, he said. However, past governments have been averse to offering tax incentives, he added.
Six winners out of 67 applicants to the ministry’s feature film grants were announced during the festival, including Marite Ugas’ religious drama “Contactado” and Josue Mendez’s dramedy “Ronnie Monroy ama a todas,” (“Ronnie Monroy Loves Them All”) both produced by prolific Peruvian producer Enid “Pinky” Campos.
Despite some technical problems and a blackout in three districts that forced some screenings to be re-programmed, the 2016 Lima Festival went swimmingly with sold out screenings across the sprawling city, complemented by its ever-expanding roving film showcase, the Muestra Itinerante, which screened films in various districts of Lima and some regions, including Cuzco and Trujillo.
If the size and scale of the parties at the Lima Film Fest were any indication of the upsurge in Peru’s film industry then the Tondero Films fiesta, attended by some 1,000 guests at the grand Lima Museum of Art on Friday (Aug. 12) heralded a shift in Peru’s nascent film industry where production output has spiked, and more mainstream and auteur pics have held their own at the box office and the international stage. Tondero, which produced the four all-time box office hits in Peru’s film history, toasted its 8th anniversary at the party with the unveiling of its own distribution outfit, to be led by TV vet Cecilia Gomez de la Torre.
OFFICIAL FICTION COMPETITION:
“Oscuro Animal,” (Felipe Guerrero, Colombia)
SPECIAL JURY PRIZE
“Aquarius,” (Kleber Mendonca Filho, Brazil)
Lorenzo Vigas (“From Afar,” Venezuela)
Sonia Braga, (“Aquarius,” Brazil)
Lucho Caceres (“La Ultima Tarde,” Peru)
Guillermo Calderon, (“Neruda.” Chile)
Diego Garcia, (“Boi Neon,” Brazil)
BEST DEBUT FEATURE
“Alba,” (Ana Cristina Barragan, Ecuador)
OFFICIAL DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION:
(“Tempestad,” Tatiana Huezo, Mexico)
“El Dorado XXI,” (Salome Lamas, Portugal)
INTERNATIONAL CRITIC AWARDS
“Oscuro Animal, (Felipe Guerrero, Colombia)
“El Sonador, (Adrian Saba, Peru)
“Boi Neon,” (Gabriel Mascaro, Brazil)
“El Apostata,” by Federico Veiroj (Spain, Uruguay)
“La Ultima Tarde” (Joel Calero, Peru)
“La Senal” (Leandro Pinto, Peru)
APRECI (Peruvian Press Association), “La Luz Incidente,” (Ariel Rotter, Argentina)
EPIC (Peruvian Film School), “La Larga Noche,” (Francisco Sanctis, Argentina)
Ministry of Culture Jury Prize, “El Sonador,” (Adrian Saba, Peru)
APC (Peru Communications Assoc), “Alba,” (Ana Cristina Barragan, Ecuador)