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Gardner, Yamaguchi, Urrutia Win at BARS

Buenos Aires Rojo Sangre closes 14th edition

Three films that home in on the psychology of characters, not splatfests – Jeremy Gardner’s “The Battery,” Yudai Yamaguchi’s “Abductee” and Miguel Urrutia’s “Wake Up and Die” – proved major winners at the 14th Buenos Aires Rojo Sangre (BARS).

BARS also screened three feature debuts – Argentine Martin Metlikovec “Adormecidos,” Swiss Olivier Beguin’s “Chimeres” and “For Elise,” from Spain’s Juanra Fernandez – which all scored major plaudits.

Adding to its kudos trove, Gardner took best film and actor for “Battery” in BARS’ Intl. Feature Film Competition.  An offbeat post-plague road/buddy movie with Gardner and co-producer Adam Cronheim playing erstwhile baseball players attempting to survive a shambling dead outbreak in the backwoods of New England, “Battery” already nailed audience awards at Amsterdam’s Imagine Film Festival and Edinburgh’s Dead by Dawn.

A time-loop thriller framing the evolving relationship between a killer and his victim, trapped in a bedroom, “Wake Up and Die,” the chamber-piece feature debut of Bogota-based Colombian Miguel Urrutia, won best picture and director in BARS’ Ibero-American Feature Competition.

Mass kidnapping mystery-thriller “Abductee,” from Japan’s Yudai Yamaguchi, scooped director and screenplay for a film about a man who wakes up bound and gagged in a metal container. Film has been judged a far-more nuanced step-forward for Yamaguchi after bloodbath “Deadball.”

Admired at Switzerland’s Neuchatel Fantastic Festival in July, and hailed as a breakthrough for Beguin, challenged love story “Chimeres” won Jasna Kohoutava best actress for her perf as a woman whose b.f. suffers a faulty blood transfusion at a Transylvania Community Hospital.

In BARS’ Iberoamerican section, Spaniard Ana Turpin took best actor for her babysitter-in-hell perf in “Elise.”

“Adormecidos” scored BARS’ all-important audience award for a low-fi mind-control parable shot in b/w as a homage to high-ambition, but low-budget, sci-fi movie-making.

Launching in 2000, BARS, one of Latin America’s biggest genre fests, has proved a driving force in the build of Argentine genre production scene, highlighting and prizing early works of directors such as Adrian Garcia Bogliano, who won 2004’s audience award for first feature, “Habitacion para turistas.”

BARS also provided peer inspiration. “There was a sense: ‘If he can do that, why can’t I,’” recalled Javier Fernandez, at Argentina’s Incaa Film Institute.

Unspooling Oct.31 – Nov. 6, this year’s BARS took place a month before Ventana Sur, where Incaa is bowing Blood Window, an international market for Latin American genre movies.

BARS large popularity comes despite – or because of – decreasing opportunities for theatrical exhibition in Argentina for local Spanish-language movies.

“Ironically, it’s easier to find interest abroad when producing genre, than here in Argentina,” said “Penumbra” co-scribe-helmer Ramiro Garcia Bogliano.

Brother Adrian Garcia Bogliano, a multiple-prize winner at Austin’s Fantastic Fest with “Here Comes the Devil,” has just shot werewolf thriller “Late Phases,” his first English-language movie, for MPI/Dark Sky Films, Site B Productions and Glass Eye Pix.

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