‘Scapulars,’ ‘Asylum,’ ‘X Quinientos,’ ‘Lacrimosa’ Win at BAM

Market attendance, overseas alliances - Locarno, San Sebastian - grow

BOGOTA – Felipe Aljure’s Tarantino-esque “Three Scapulars” and two of Colombia’s highest-profile projects – Jaime Osorio’s romantic social issue movie “Asylum” and Juan Andres Arango’s pan-American omnibus “X Quinientos” – were among the big winners at a vibrant 5th Bogota Audiovisual Market, which wrapped Friday night.

Unspooling July 1º4-18, some six months after new Colombian Law 1556 rebates kicked in from late last year. Their provisions are among the most generous in Latin America: Uup to 40% of production and Colombian labor expenditures and 20% of spend on accommodation, catering and transport.

But as the rebates create new challenges for Colombia’s industry. 2014’s BAM underscored multiple trends now driving its filmmaking: Multi-front growth, the vibrancy of its art pic production; the first attempts to take on board the challenges of becoming an international shoot service provider, such as the need to create a local talent base to service foreign shoots; and the emergence of what could be called a post-war Colombian cinema.

Exhibit A of post-war movies: Aljure’s “Scapulars,” winner of BAM Screenings’ Cinecolor Colombia Prize, worth $10,000 in production services.

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The first film in eight years from Aljure, the most Tarantino-esque of Colombian helmers, “Three Scapulars” boasts as a kick-ass femme assassin, off-the-rails Colombian guerrilla mobsters, split-screen takes, and left-of-field camera angles – a sex scene showing just feet and hands; the colonial city of Cartagena shot as a new Miami, with a lengthy waterfront of concrete white high-ruses.

It story of two guerrilla assassins, dispatched to murder a snitch, only to discover she’s heavily pregnant, also presents the post-war choice between vengeance or the preservation of life,

Attendance at BAM rose some 50% to over 1,000participants, per one estimate. In a further sign of growth, in a first-time-link up, “Asylum,” “X Quinientos” and “Lagrimosa,” all BAM projects, will be pitched by their producers at the Locarno Festival’s Industry Days.

Produced by Burning Blue and Rhayuela, plus France’s CineSud Promotion, and Osorio’s follow-up to his debut, the Wild Bunch-sold “El Paramo,” in another instance of ppst-war Colombian cinema, “Asylum” turns on a teen hesitating between avenging his best friend’s murder or saving the life of an asylum inmate whom he falls in love with. Burning Blue’s Diana Bustamante accepted the prize.

Set in Mexico, Canada and Colombia, “X Quinientos’’’ three intertwining stories turn on individuals – a Buenaventura drug cartel member in the Colombian story – who, after a loved one’s death, go through physical transformation.

Also Locarno-bound and produced out of Colombia by Jorge Andrés Botero’s Septima Films, Simon Paetau’s “Lacrimosa” is a friendship drama set in Bogota’s transgender community.

A further three BAM project producers – Aida Jisetti Cortes for “Jepirra,” Diana Maria Zuleta with “Sea Horses,” Carolina Mosquera for “The Dead Professors” – will now be pitched at the San Sebastian Festival Industry Club as part of the activities of the Europe-Latin America Co-production Forum.

Produced by Cabecitanegra Productions, and helmed by Colombia’s Alfonso Acosta, whose debut “The Crack,” a grieving family drama, was picked up for worldwide by eOne Intl. dramedy “The Dead Professors” turns on a teacher facing mid-life crisis, a confrontational student and a world where ethics and knowledge are losing their importance. Maybe, he thinks, it’s time for a change.

A docu pic from Alexander Gonzalez Tascon, “Sea Horses” charts the childhood, teen years and final adulthood of a

humble fishermen in the Gulf of Tribuga.

In Juan Camilo Gonzalez Moreno’s “Jepirra,” a Christian pastor of Wayuu origins is pressurized to embrace indigenous tradition to save his dying wife.

Cinecolor Colombia special mentions went to two of the films which – along with Franco Lolli’s Cannes Critics’ Week player “Gente de bien” and William Vega’s desert-set emotional odyssey “Sal” -, creating most anticipation at BAM: Sergio Cabrera’s “Everybody’s Gone,” judged a respectful adaptation of Wendy Guerra’s autobiography about growing up in ‘80s Cuba; and Felipe Cano’s “The Seeds of Silence,” a brooding noirer in which a ferret-faced security specialist falls for a human-rights attorney who has proof of a high-ranking general to the massacre of teens in 1998. Handled by Latido Films, “Silence” has already been licensed to Cinemaworld for pay TV in South East Asia.

Among projects and screenings which varied greatly in quality, some of the most interesting film work – and it’s another sign of growth in Colombia – may now be carried out in documentary.

Camila Rodriguez Triana’s autobiographical “Sincerely,” winner of $10,000 in post-production services from Hangar Films, charts her work in a home for the elderly as she attempts to recover from severe depression. She begins thinking she can aid them; finally, it is their advice and support which furthers her recovery.

Tatiana Villacob’s “Boys of Buenaventura,” charts the ambitions of three Afro-Colombians, all classical musicians and just graduating from high-school, to pursue further education in music. For most talented players, that would be a reasonable enough ambition. For blacks from Buenaventura, Colombia’s most violent port city, it is a dream of almost Billy Elliot proportions.




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