MAR DEL PLATA – Les Films d’Ici, the Paris-based producer of Golden Globe-winner “Waltz With Bashir,” Agusto G. Zarpiola’s Argentina Cine, Germany’s ma.ja.de (Sergi Loznitsa’s “In the Fog”), and the Netherlands’ De Productie (“And Then One Day”) are teaming to produce “To the Center of the Earth” from Daniel Rosenfeld (“The Chimera of Heroes”).
Produced by Rosenfeld, “Center of the Earth” has the singular distinction of having been selected for both Mar del Plata’s Work in Progress next week and Ventana Sur’s Primer Corte, the week after.
Also written by Rosenfeld, “Earth” is at its heart a loving father-son relationship drama in which a 70-year-old villager, Antonio, living in Salta, in the north of Argentina, trains his son in how to make films documenting UFO activity around his home village. At the same time, he seeks out confirmation in Buenos Aires from a specialist that the films he has shot of strange lights in the sky could be records of UFOs.
One expert, Milstein, really an aeronautics mechanic, suggests that any trace of an alien spaceship might now be underground high up a 20,000-feet mountain near Antonio’s village and only reached by a cave. Together, Antonio and Milstein plan an expedition to the cave.
The latest film from Rosenfeld, whose credits include “The Chimera of Heroes,” on which other producers included Les Films d’Ici and Lars von Trier’s Zentropa, “Earth” is filmed in a neo-documentary style, like an observational fiction: The camera pans, rather than cuts; scenes are often filmed in mid-shot as if the director doesn’t know what will happen.
“’The Chimera of Heroes” combined real and documentary elements, with a classic narrative structure. This film moves in the same direction, but is a fiction,” Rosenfeld said. “I wanted the effect of a film where it was impossible to plan shot set-ups,” he added.
Adding resonance to the film, Antonio makes films about reality that could well be fiction, while “Earth” is a fiction that could well be a reality. Film’s center, however, is a father’s battle to bequeath to his young son his passion and a shared fantasy, which is often the base of father-son relationships.
“’This is an film about hope in the least banal sense of the word, about somebody who wants to believe in something,” Rosenfeld said.
Antonio is played by Antonio Zuleta, an amateur UFO sleuth, whose film credits amount to having played an extra in the 1962 Yul Brynner-starrer “Taras Bulba,” which was part shot in Argentina, doubling up as 16th century Ukraine, Rosenfeld said.