SAN SEBASTIAN –Spain’s Film Factory Ent. has swooped on world sales rights to Jayro Bustamante’s “Ixcanul,” a standout in San Sebastian Fest’s pix-in-post competition, Films in Progress, which wrapped Wednesday at the Spanish Festival.
Deal excludes Central America, France and Switzerland. Struck at San Sebastian with “Ixcanul” producer Edgard Tenembaum, at Paris-based Tu Vas Voir, and Bustamante, also a producer, the sales pact was made on a title which was enthusiastically received at 2014’s Films in Progress for its ability to combine entertainment with a impacting and informed presentation of the abuses and lack of freedom suffered by women in rural parts of Guatemala.
“Ixcanul” ended up with a Films in Progress Special Mention, the equivalent of a Special Jury Prize in larger competitions.
Vicente Canales’ Film Factory, a Barcelona-based sales house, already handles a slew of the most prominent Spanish arthouse/crossover and genre titles: Two Film Factory sales titles, “Marshland” and “Loreak” (Flowers) play San Sebastian’s main competition. Added to Film Factory’s handling of Argentine Damian Szifron’s “Wild Tales,” a Cannes competition, Telluride, Toronto and now San Sebastian player, and the “Ixcanul” deal confirms Film Factory’s interest in moving in forcefully on select Latin American titles that enthuse founder Canales.
Written by Bustamante, who grew up in the Guatemalan highlands where “Ixcanul” is set, his debut feature first portrays the daily existence of a 17-year-old Kaqchiqel girl living in a village in the foothills of a volcano, Ixcanul, who faces an arranged marriage with the overseer of the local lands. But she falls under the spell of Pepe, a young plantation worker who enthralls her with talk of emigrating to the U.S. When Pepe leaves alone, he also leaves Maria pregnant.
Her dishonor levels up “Ixcanul’s” narrative drive. She attempts ever more desperate remedies to redeem herself and her family in the village’s eyes until she is rushed to hospital in the city, finally makes contact with the modern world she has dreamed of living in. Its treatment of her, however, delivers a shocking finale.
Bustamante commented: “Ixcanul” turns on the “impossibility of an underage woman, who is Kaqchikel and lives far from a big city to determine her own destiny.”
“Gabriel Garcia Marquez embodied magic realism, Unfortunately, a more appropriate term for Guatemala would often be tragic realism.”
“’Ixcanul’ is the best film by a large head that I saw this week at San Sebastian,” Canales told Variety at the Spanish Festival.
“It’s original, unique, powerful, can have a great festival run and sales in specialized circuits and to distributors who want to bet on a film which is new and authentic.”
“I am very happy to think ‘Icanul’s’ in such good hands. The film will go far. Jayro Bustamante, despite his young age, has a sensitivity and maturity which is extraordinary,” Tenembaum added.
Tenembaum’s producer credits include Walter Salles’ “The Motorcycle Diaries” and Cuban Pavel Giroud’s upcoming “The Companion,” now in pre-production, which won the EGEDA best project award at 2013’s San Sebastian’s 2nd Europe-Latin America Co-production Forum.