‘Cajas,’ ‘Infancy’ top Films in Progress

Section mixes politics, social issues, romance

SAN SEBASTIAN — “7 Cajas,” from Paraguay’s Juan Carlos Maneglia and Tana Schembori, won the Industry Award at the San Sebastian Film Festival’s 20th Films in Progress rough-cut showcase.

Prize covers the film’s post-production costs through to a 35mm print.

Lead-produced by Luis Puenzo’s Buenos Aires-based Historias Cinematograficas, “Clandestine Infancy” won Spain’s Casa de America Aid — a Euros10,000 ($13,670) cash-prize.

Plaudits went to the FIP film that probably needed a prize the most — “Cajas” was produced without foreign fund coin — and was one of the titles in the section with the best production values.

A rarity — a truly exotic feature in a globalized age — comedic thriller “Cajas” drinks from several wells, including back-alley Hong Kong chop-socky and Cockney criminal capers.

But “Cajas” slots a fairly by-the-numbers plot — a wide-eyed 17-year-old innocent embroiled in a bungled kidnapping — into a completely non-standard context: the demi-monde of Asuncion’s central market.

Lit with the subjective glow of memory, ’70s Argentina-set “Infancy” narrates an adolescent’s high-school puppy love as his parents, both Montonero urban guerrilla members, organize armed resistance to Argentina’s military junta. It left hardly a dry eye in the house.

FIP also featured Mexican Gabriel Marino’s coming-of-age road movie “Un Mundo secreto” and “La Playa,” a drama about broken dreams from Colombia’s Juan Andres Arango. The pic centers on three teen Afro-Colombian brothers who, abandoned by their mother, flee to La Playa, a Bogota mean-streets hood.

What was so notable about this year’s FIP, however, was how two of its best-received titles — Chilean Marialy Rivas’ Fabula-produced “Young and Wild” and Brazilian Marcelo Gomes’ “Once Upon a Time Veronica,” from Dezenove — captured a Latin American reality of middle classes whose members are now rich enough to confront problems of the heart, not of the wallet.

A barbed, candid, comedic chronicle of teen sex angst, “Wild” has the daughter of two bible-bashing Evangelists battling her large sense of guilt, but larger libido as she swings both ways, romancing via Internet chat and drawing up an 11-point Gospel on sex. Playing to applause, it had sales agents — LGBT and Latin American specialists — circling the title post-screening.

Femme drama “Veronica” chronicles the life of a young Recife woman doctor who lives in a nice-enough high-rise with an ailing father and shies away from marriage. Notably, her employment concerns are whether she likes her job, not whether she’s got one at all.

Films in Progress ran Sept. 20-11. The San Sebastian Festival ends Saturday.