MAR DEL PLATA – Manuel Abramovich’s “Soley,” a documentary director’s dream-come-true where the subject reveals much of his true character by taking over the film’s direction, won the 29th Mar del Plata Festival Work in Progress. Award was announced Saturday night at fest’s closing ceremony.
Screwball urban comedy “Veredas” took a first special mention, “Madres de los dioses,” from name-Argentine director Pablo Aguero (“Salamandra,” “77 Doronship”), won a second special mention.
In “Soley,” Abramovich set out two years ago to make a film about Argentina’s Cabobianco family re-editing a 20th anniversary edition of “Vengo del sol,” a New Age best-seller in Argentina in which son Flavio Cabobianco, then aged 10, explained that he came from the sun.
But a film about the new edition finally morphed into a very different production about Abramovich shooting a film about this event, documenting, sometimes hilariously if audience reactions were anything to go by at Mar del Plata, a power battle between director and subject as Flavio Cabobianco insists on taking over the direction and making Manuel one of the film’s other characters. For some, Flavio’s actions may seem pure megalomania, or add honest meta-heft to the film, underscoring the falsehoods inherent in any documentary. The film’s core narrative may be how Abramovich reacts to his losing control over two years of work. “It took me some time to realize that the only character who was really changing in the film was me,” Abramovich said at his WIP presentation Friday.
An urban screwball romcom starring Ezequial Tronconi and Paula Reca, which shuttles from one location in Buenos Aires’ Palermo district to the next, Cricenti’s “Veredas” marks an increasingly common play among young Argentine directors for broader audiences.
Focusing on four women of different faiths but similar circumstances – single mothers living with children in a valley in Patagonia, which has 60 cults or religions – Aguero’s “Madres de los Dioses” is a study of how women have abandoned their love of men for that of a superior being or new identity – via Islam, Buddhism, recognition of Mapuche origins or cosmic values, as is the case with two women, renamed Resonant Yellow Star and Spectral White Human. Spiritual guides, they join forces to build a temple together. Semi tongue-in-cheek, a prologue has Geraldin Chaplin as Godess, explaining how she created man and then men took over religion.
WIP winner “Soley” received multiple prizes, including post-production services from Cinecolor.