Mexican filmmaker Francisco Vargas, the driving force behind international fest hit “The Violin,” is teaming with Spanish companies Producciones Sin Un Duro and Jose Nolla’s Iconica plus French outfit Noodles Prods to co-produce Spaniard Chema Rodriguez’s Guatemalan civil war drama “Siete horas” (Seven Hours).
Co-penned by Rodriguez (“Nightfall in India,” “The Railroad All Stars”) and Vargas, project has just won a Gabriel Figueroa Film Fund award for Mexican projects in development stage at the 3rd Los Cabos International Film Festival.
Set in the early ’80s in the GuatemalaN village of Rio Negro, during the country’s ghastly civil war, “Seven Hours” turns on the last days that a small boy, called Jesus Tecu Osorio, lived as “adopted son” in the house of one of the men who killed his family and another 177 women and children.
In wrenching detail, “Seven hours” records Jesus lying on his stomach, listening to the cries of women who are raped then murdered and hearing Guatemalan soldiers’ boots getting close,, in search of more victims.
“The film is inspired by true events but the story has grown by itself. It will be a pure drama with film references from ‘El violin,’ Carlos Reygadas’ ‘Silent Light’ and the Dardenne brothers, especially from ‘The Child,’” said Chema Rodriguez.
Pic aims to shoot in Guatemala’s Cuchumatanes Highlands from April-May, and would be ready for delivery by the fall, said producer Jose Nolla.
“We have to design a shooting schedule with enormous flexibility because we plan to shoot in rainy season, giving the story the drama we seek,” Nolla said.
Film is structured as a Spain-Mexico-France co-production, with Chema Rodriguez’s Madrid-based shingle Producciones Sin Un Duro and Iconica as the Spanish partners; Francisco Vargas participates via his Mexico-based outfit Camara Carnal Films.
Jerome Vidal’s prodco Noodles took a minority co-production stake in “Seven Hours” after the project was pitched to an upbeat reception in June at Paris’ Small is Biutiful showcase.
A regular partner on recent Spanish co-productions, Noodles has already teamed with Iconica on Argentine Alejo Flah’s romantic comedy “Easy Sex, Sad Movies” and Javier Rebollo’s award-winning road movie “Death and Being Happy.”
Backed by Spanish film institute ICAA and the Ibermedia fund, “Seven Hours” has just completed script stage. The casting process is scheduled to kick off in February.
“This is a film with very little dialogue that progresses through action. Its silence will serve to highlight the tension caused by fear,” Chema Rodriguez said.
“There are some ancestral, non-verbal codes we want to preserve that will be part of the strength of the film. In this sense, the silences are essential. People talk a little but says a lot,” Nolla added.
After being chosen for San Sebastian Film Festival’s Europe-Latin American Co-production Forum in September, “Seven Hours” was invited to December’s Ventana Sur, where producers aim to close a deal with an international sales agent.
Project is currently participating at the eQuinoxe Europe International Screenwriters’ Workshop 2014 in Munich, Germany.