‘Quispe Girls’ wins Churubusco Prize

Fabula pic tops Guadalajara Co-production meeting

Chile’s “The Quispe Girls” took the coveted Churubusco prize at the 26th Guadalajara Festival Tuesday, claiming the top spot among 30 projects competing in fest’s 7th Ibero-American Co-production Meeting.

Directed by documentary filmmaker Sebastian Sepulveda (“El Arenal”), “Girls” is produced by Pablo and Juan de Dios Larrain’s Santiago de Chile-based art pic powerhouse Fabula.

Set in 1974, as Chile fell under the grip of Agustin Pinochet’s military authorities, “Girls” turns on the middle-aged sisters Justa, Lucia and Luciana, who are Coya shepherds living on the Chilean highlands.

They hear of a new law that forbids them to maintain goats on the land where they have herded all their lives. The recent loss of their eldest sister and mother compounds a sense of abandonment, leading them to take their own lives.

“In the eyes of the Western world, their decision is terrible,” Sepulveda said in Guadalajara. But, he added, “understood according to indigenous Coya codes, their death is a journey of re-encounter with their sister.”

In visual terms, “Girls” attempts to describe the world from the point of view of the shepherds, creating an “almost hypnotic style,” Sepulveda added.

“The visualization we’ve seen of the locations, in the high Atacama, is spectacular,” noted Michael Rowe, winner of Cannes 2010’s Camera d’Or with “Leap Year” and one of three judges for the event.

He added: “The characters are really strong and stand out. If the film achieves what it’s aiming for, it will win prizes all around the world.”

The award pays for services at Mexico City’s Churubusco Studios, covering $120,000 in studio fees. The film already had $150,000 backing from France’s Fonds Sud.

Juan Ignacio Correa and Juan de Dios Larrain produce for Fabula which also has Pablo Larrain’s “Post Mortem” at Guadalajara — a hot contender in the Ibero-American Fiction Competition.

With projects presented by some of Latin America’s top players — Fabula, Patagonik, RCN Cine — the Co-Production Meeting saw a good buzz on a healthy spread of projects.

Among them: “Level With the Sky” by Spain’s Horacio Alcala, Carlos Cesar Arbelaez’s “What They Called Love” and Mexican-Dutch project “Dream in Another Language,” by Ernesto Contreras.