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‘Las Elegidas,’ ‘Domestic Animals,’ ‘Franco’s Night’ Selected for San Sebastian’s Europe-Latin America Co-Pro Forum

‘Sal’ and ‘X Quinientos’ also make the cut

Mexican David Pablos’ “Las Elegidas,” “Domestic Animals,” from Colombia’s Andres Baiz, and “Franco’s Night,” by Bernardo Arellano, also from Mexico, will feature at the San Sebastian Fest’s 3rd Europe-Latin America Co-Production Forum.

Event will be energized by a Focus on Canada, organized with Telefilm Canada, which will see 12 Canadian producers attending the Forum.

Rapidly positioning as San Sebastian’s centerpiece industry event – 365 meeting were held in 2012 at the co-pro mart, 461 in 2013 – the Forum runs Sept. 22-24, parallel to San Sebastian’s Films in Progress pix-in-post strand, fest’s other big industry lure..

Select projects will be invited by Cannes Marche du Film and Argentina’s INCAA Film Institute to attend Ventana Sur, which these two entities co-organize, and then Cannes’ Market next May. Projects will compete this year as last for an Egeda Award, granted by the Madrid-based Audiovisual Producers Rights Management Assn., which comes with a $10,000 cash prize.

In what on paper looks like a bullish line-up, the Forum will feature new projects from companies which rate as key players on the Latin American movie scene, such as Mexico’s Canana and Colombia’s Dynamo, both members of Participant PanAmerica, plus the Puenzo family’s Historias Cinematograficas in Argentina and two of Colombia’s modest active international co-producers, Septima Films and Contravia Films.

Many of the films at the Forum have a very good chance of going into production: Nine of 2012’s projects are now completed productions, some released. But it will also allow producers to ring their co-production and sales agent options, and begin marketing their films at an early upstream stage.

Set up at Canana, the nine-year-old production house founded by Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna and Pablo Cruz, “Las Elegidas” marks Mexican David Pablos’ follow-up to “The Life After,” a teen brother road movie that, remarkably for a graduation film, played Venice Horizons in 2013, establishing Pablos as a talent to track.

In the line of Canana’s “Miss Bala” and “Sin nombre,” Cruz told Variety Wednesday, “Las elegidas” turns on child prostitution, a crime that affects every country and that is tolerated by most civilized places, Cruz added.

Baiz, (“Satan – Profile of a Killer,” “The Hidden Face,” “Roa”) one of new Colombia cinema’s founding fathers, will direct the Dynamo-produced “Domestic Animals,” a Miami-set dramedy about immigrants, rich and poor – in this case, a Colombian maid and her sozzled mistress – which marks Baiz’s first – if only in part – English-language feature.

“A dark bloody suspense thriller with a tragic finale,” in Arellano’s words, “Franco’s Night” turns on a violent criminal who holes up at a bedraggled hotel, only to fall perilously in love. An Ibermedia funding winner, “Night” marks the third feature from Arellano and producer April Shannon, whose debut “Between Night And Day” won San Sebastian’s Films in Progress, while Arellano’s follow-up “The Beginning of Time,” won Los Cabos works-in-progress last November. Project aims to pull down Eficine tax coin, Shannon said to Variety.

Showcasing 15 projects from 14 countries, the Forum will also feature two Colombian projects – William Vega “Sal” and Juan Andres Arango’s “X Quinientos” – which have hit pix-in-post competitions earlier this year, prompting acclaim.

Set up at Contravia and structured as a co-production between Germany’s Bredok Film Production, co-producers of Cannes Palme d’Or winner “Winter’s Sleep,” and France’s Cine-Sud Promotion, Vega’s “Sal” is his follow-up to “La Sirga,” that world premiered to an upbeat reception at Cannes 2012 Directors’ Fortnight.

Shot principally in the Pacific’s Malpelo Island and the Tatacoa scrub desert – two areas rarely lensed in films, the road movie “Sal” turns on Heraldo, man who takes a motorbike trip across wild arid lands in search of traces of his missing father, only to suffer an accident and be cured by a hermit couple. But Heraldo’s wounds are signs of his scarred soul.

“’Sal’ explores the relationship of man, nature, destiny, and the never-ending struggle for wisdom,” Vega has said, calling ‘Sal’ a fable. Developed at the Cannes Festival’s Cinefondation-Residence, “Sal” won the Arte development prize at the Torino Film Lab Script & Pitch program.

Set in Mexico, Canada and Colombia, and produced by Canada’s Peripheria Productions, Mexico’s Machete Producciones and Colombia’s Septima, “X Quinientos’’’ (pictured) meshes three intertwining stories that turn on individuals – a boy from an indigenous village in Mexico; a Buenaventura drug cartel member, the grand-daughter of a Filipino maid in Canada – who, after a loved one’s death, go through physical transformation.

Produced by Historias Cinematograficas, the company behind not only the films of Luis and Lucia Puenzo but also “Clandestine Childhood,” “Chau, Buenos Aires” is written by director German Kral, noted for his music documentaries (“The Last Applause,” “Musica cubana”) and “The Son of the Bride” co-scribe Fernando Castets.

Of other potential highlights, “Siete horas, from Chema Rodriguez (“Nightfall in India”) turns on a small boy’s relation with his adopted mother and another boy. Set against the stark reality of Guatemala’s horrific civil war, project impressed when presented in June at Paris’ Small is Biutiful. Jose Nolla’s Iconica exec produces. Pic aims to shoot in Guatemala’s Cuchumatanes Highlands and Mexico’s Chiapas.

Davi Pretto, a partner at Porto Alegre’s Tokyo Filmes, and director of memorable docu/fiction portrait “Castanha,” which played at Berlin this year, will present “Ate o Caminho,” Written by Richard Tavares and Pretto, and produced by Paola Wink, who also produced “Castanha,” Pretto’s debut, “Ate o caminho” is “Somewhere between a road movie, a western and a suspense” film, Pretto told Variety.

Following the game-plan of San Sebastian Fest director Jose Luis Rebordinos, the Forum’s third edition balances projects from high-profile Latin American arthouse helmers with others from far lesser-known talent.

Produced by Costa Rica’s La Feria Producciones, Cuban Armando Capo’s “August” Is a coming-of-age-tale, set in 1994 Cuba, when the collapse sparked desperate food and energy shortages and attempts at mass exodus.

Pablo Iraburu and Migueltxo Molina will talk up “Walls,” a docu-feature about people living on different sides of divisive walls, produced by Pamplona’s Arena Comunicacion Audiovisual.

Other projects are “The Return,” from actor-director Gorki Glaser-Muller, set up at Zentropa Intl. Sweden; “Entre perro y lobo,” the latest project from Irene Gutierrez, co-director of the passage of the Cuba-set passage-of-an-era docu feature “Nueva Isla”; “Fantasia,” from Juan Pablo Richter at Bolivia’s Fantasia Films; and “Marilyn,” from Argentina’s Martin Rodriguez.

Selected from an Ibermedia Central America/Caribbean development workshop, Alvaro Puente’s “Noli,” produced by Costa Rica’s Quenepa Producciones, will also be presented at the Forum, out of competition.

The Europe-Latin America Co-Production Forum is backed by the Basque Government’s Department of Economic Development and Competitiveness and the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism.

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