LOCARNO – On the near eve of Locarno, Xavier Henry-Rashid’s London-based Film Republic has acquired world sales rights to Arami Ullon’s “El tiempo nublado,” that features next Tuesday in this year’s Locarno Fest’s Panorama Suisse.
Pascal Traechslin at Switzerland’s Cineworx Filmproduktion produced the docu-feature, one of the few helmed by a femme director from Paraguay, one of the few countries in Latin America whose government has yet to put its back fully behind national filmmaking.
Cineworx Film Distribution, one of Switzerland’s main film distributors, will also distribute in Switzerland.
Ines Skrbic, Film Republic’s Festival and Non-Theatrical exec, in charge of docu acquisitions, oversaw the acquisition.
A supremely personal film set in part in a distant land, “El tiempo nublado” still turns on an issue which will be instantly – and movingly familiar – to film viewers around the world: How to care for one’s parents once they are old and ill.
Ullon’s firs theatrical documentary, “El tiempo nublado” turns in this case on Ullon’s own dilemma. Her mother, for as long as she can remember, has suffered from epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease. As the only child of an absent father, Ullon cared took responsibility for her mother. Several years ago she cut the cord, moving to Switzerland, where she lives with her partner, Patrick. Julia, an untrained house help cares for her mother around the clock. But as her mother’s health deteriorates, Arami is forced to return to Paraguay. Will she be able to find a solution for her mother in a country, where the caretaking of the elderly is mainly up to their relatives? And if so, should she give up her happiness in Europe and go back to her mother?
“El Tiempo Nublado” reflects “a very relevant and modern social dilemma that much of the modern world is facing, that of an ageing population,” Skribic said.
“Arami Ullon’s film deals with this sensitively and compassionately, and has dramatically moved audiences in every screening it has received so far.” Skrbic added: “This collaboration cements a long term friendship between Xavier Henry-Rashid and producer Pascal Traechslin who also runs and founded Cineworx Film Distribution, one of Switzerland’s leading film distributors. So I’m personally very happy to work with him on the film, and of course with Swiss Films again.
The “Tiempo nublado” pick-up comes as filmmaking conditions in Paraguay, though improving, remain challenged.
Ullon herself directed two shorts in Paraguay – Ausencia de un nombre propio (1998), and Beckon (2000) and stage play “A Bizarre Matter of Love ” (2000) – before studying filmmaking at the Boston Film and Video Foundation. Since then, she has spent much of her career producing music videos, TV programs and commercials for Latin American and European production companies, though she did produce “18 cigarillos y medio,” a co-production with two top Spanish-language world companies: Mexico’s Canana and Spain’s Tornasol Films.
“Some people argue that Paraguay’s dictatorship ended 25 years ago and of course this statement is true, but only as a formal truth. In everyday life, the aftermath of the dictatorship is still felt in every aspect of Paraguayan life,” Ullon said.
“Personally, I can say that I left my country because I could not find room to continue growing,” she added.
“Financing for all types of artistic endeavors, not only filmmaking, is very reduced. Currently the private sector seems to be understanding more and more the social and cultural relevance of filmmaking, and even the economic benefits that it may bring. The public sector on the other hand, has yet to commit in a serious manner.”
Fortunately, however, Ullon said, there are people who work to improve the industry’s condition in both the private and state sectors.
“Without them we would be lost. I hope to return one day and work from Paraguay too.”