MEXICO CITY – A hotly anticipated Argentine title, Daniel Rosenfeld’s “Al centro de la tierra,” plus an instance of still rare Paraguayan filmmaking, Luis Zorraquin’s “Guarani,” mark two attractions at Ventana Sur’s 6th Primer Corte pix-in-post competition, which unspools Dec. 1-5 in Buenos Aires.
They will be joined by “Clever” (pictured), from Uruguay’s Guillermo Madeiro and Federico Borgia. Georges Goldenstern, general manager of the Cannes Festival’s Cinefondation, chose the showcase’s titles.
Primer Corte is one of Ventana Sur’s major industry events. Down Ventana Sur’s first five years, it has also, however, proved a bellwether to industry trends. One may be the slow-but-steady rise of mainstream filmmaking in Latin America. “Tierra” and “Guarani” are art films, Goldenstern said; the others have more commercial elements, he added. Many are personal stories which don’t really talk, at least directly, about modern Latin America.
A study in obsession and a tribute to man’s capacity for fantasy, told in a neo-docu style, “Tierra” turns on a 70-year-old villager’s fascination with the possibility of having filmed a potential UFO, one of which may have crashed way up his local mountain. Boasting the strongest co-pro partners of any Primer Corte titles – Argentina’s Rizoma, France’s Les Film d’Ici, Netherlands’ De Productie, Germany’s Ma.ja.de – “Tierra” weighs in as the highest-profile of Primer Corte titles from the director with the largest c.v.: Rosenfeld caught attention as long ago as 2003 when “The Chimera of Heroes” won the Rome City Best Debut director award at the Venice Festival.
Directed by Argentina’s Luis Zorraquin, and produced by Paraguay’s Pua Tarara Films and Argentina’s Zmascine, “Guarani” – on which buzz is good – turns on questions of identity and tradition, charting a journey between Paraguay and Buenos Aires, taken by a traditionalist Guarani fisherman, and his grand-daughter. Film reflects the cultural gulf in Latin America between older and youngest generations, said Goldenstern. The journey opens her granddad up, transforms their relationship, and they begin to understand each other, he added.
Written and directed by Uruguay’s Madeiro and Borgia, and produced by Montelona Cine, “Clever” is a portrait of a complex personality, a 33-year-old martial arts teacher and tuning enthusiast plus divorcee with a 10-year-old son, who is searching for a meaning in life.
Also in Primer Corte, “California,” the feature debut of a former MTV host, Brazil’s Marina Person, is a Brazil-set coming of age drama about an adolescent girl’s first sexual experiences, set against the background of the AIDs-ravaged ‘80s.
Poetic homecoming tale “Paisaje Indelible,” from Colombia’s Jaime Barrios, turns on a young man’s return to the village where he grew up as a child; Humor-laced imprisonment drama “Presos” is the third feature from Costa Rica’s Esteban Ramirez (“Caribe” “Gestacion”), Inspired by Ramirez’s father’s pioneering “Los Presos,” it frames a love story between a woman and a behind bars convict.
Ventana Sur will also screen Alfonso Gazitua’s second feature “The Woman of the Cape,” which won the Ventana Sur Award at Chile’s Sanfic Fest. A study in female derangement, “Woman,” Gazitua’s follow-up to “Rey de San Gregorio,” turns on a shy seamstress’s slippage towards madness, a victim of guilt, unrequited love and, above all, solitude. “Woman” plays outside Primer Corte.