Gustavo Hernandez Preps ‘Albatros’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Survival thriller marks step-up for ‘Casa muda’ helmer and production house Madre Superior

BUENOS AIRES – Bursting onto Latin America’s genre scene with the Elle Driver-sold “La casa muda,” a big hit at Cannes in 2011, Uruguay’s Gustavo Hernandez has set his next feature, sci-fi survival thriller “Albatros.”

News of “Albatros” comes as Hernandez attends Ventana Sur to promote Juma Fodde Roma’s witchhunt tale “Ice for the Eagles,” part of its Beyond the Window fantastic film project showcase.

Set up at Montevideo’s Mother Superior, where Hernandez partners with Ignacio Cucucovich, “Albatros” is written by Fodde Roma. Cucucovich produces. Story centers on Iris, a young paraplegic who struggles to survive in a near-future world ravaged by a pandemic of irrational violence. On her journey, she zealously looks for her little niece, while constantly avoiding the savages that roam this decaying earth, lurking on the roads that lead to the top of the mountain, which holds the only hope of salvation.

Shot as one continuous take and the subject of a U.S. remake starring Elizabeth Olsen and directed by “Open Water’s” Chris Kentis and Lara Lau, “La casa muda” was shot in an isolated countryside house. “Local God,” Hernandez’s second film, seen at September’s Austin Fantastic Festival, unspools in a cave where a demonic force unleashes the worst nightmares of the members of a rockband.

“My films are always claustrophobic,” said Hernandez, and “Albatros” will be no exceptions, often shot in enclosed spaces and with a heroine, paraplegic from the waist down, imprisoned in her own body.

Talking to Variety at Ventana Sur with Cucucovich and Frodde, Hernandez clarified that the “savages” in “Albatros” are not zombies but extremely – and sometimes suddenly – violent people.

“’Albatros’ is a survival thriller but it has a social angle: It talks about what is happening in Uruguay and Latin America, the tremendous violence in contemporary society,” Hernandez said, expounding the tents of Mother Superior: “Films which experimental element, take risks, which also travel internationally and which can, using horror, talk about society.”

“Albatros” also signaled “one more step up in scale,” he added. “We are looking for a flagship for Mother Superior and hope it is ‘Albatros,’” said Cucucovich. It will be co-produced with Argentina, he added.

Another aim at the Mother Superior is to become a young talent hub, he added. At Ventana Sur, it has presented “Ice for the Eagles,” set as Fodde Roma’s follow-up to “Splendorous Garden of the Heart,” which won a Work in Progress Special Jury Award at September’s Austin Fantastic Market.

A debunking modern witch hunt tale, “Ice” turns on a teenage girl from the backwoods, who has mystical experiences, and is accused of being a witch by the local school teacher, eager to distract attention from her own guilty involvement in a car accident.

“’Ice for the Eagles’ is a tale about witches and strong women. Through a female universe, I want to explore ideas about the loss of boundaries and physical and psychological limits, ideas about excess and extravagance, and from that standpoint I want to approach the subjects that are at the core of this story, Frodde said.

Among other Mother Superior projects, “We’re Not Going to Fiesta Nibiru” is the fourth film by Manuel Facal (“High Five”), a sci-fi dark comedy with a good dose of suspense. It is being put through a crowdfunding campaign, and it will start shooting in April 2015.

A second project, said Cucucovich, is “The Winning Short Film,” from Nico Ciganda. It is the story of Pablo, Rodrigo y Quique, amateur short filmmakers. With no luck with awards and deeply in debt, they decide to make a jury-proof short film, at any cost. They devise a plan to spy on the jury members and then shoot a winning short film. Along the way they discover their personal paths separate and the end of their late adolescence inexorably approaches.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Samuel-W.-Gelfman

    Samuel Gelfman, Roger Corman Film Producer, Dies at 88

    Samuel Gelfman, a New York producer known for his work on Roger Corman’s “Caged Heat,” “Cockfighter” and “Cannonball!,” died Thursday morning at UCLA Hospital in Westwood following complications from heart and respiratory disease, his son Peter Gelfman confirmed. He was 88. Gelfman was born in Brooklyn, New York and was raised in Caldwell New Jersey [...]

  • Margot Robbie stars in ONCE UPON

    Box Office: 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' Pulls Ahead of 'Hobbs & Shaw' Overseas

    Sony’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” might not have hit No. 1 in North America, but Quentin Tarantino’s latest film is leading the way at the international box office, where it collected $53.7 million from 46 markets. That marks the best foreign opening of Tarantino’s career, coming in ahead of 2012’s “Django Unchained.” “Once [...]

  • Good Boys Movie

    Box Office: 'Good Boys' Leads Crowded Weekend With $21 Million

    The Bean Bag Boys, the self-appointed nickname for the trio of best friends in Universal’s “Good Boys,” are conquering much more than sixth grade. They are also leading the domestic box office, exceeding expectations and collecting $21 million on opening weekend. “Good Boys,” which screened at 3,204 North American theaters, is a much-needed win for [...]

  • Amanda Awards

    ‘Out Stealing Horses’ Tops Norway’s 2019 Amanda Awards

    HAUGESUND, Norway —  Hans Petter Moland’s sweeping literary adaptation “Out Stealing Horses” put in a dominant showing at Norway’s Amanda Awards on Saturday night, placing first with a collected five awards, including best Norwegian film. Celebrating its 35th edition this year, the Norwegian industry’s top film prize helped kick off the Haugesund Film Festival and [...]

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Richard Williams, 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' Animator, Dies at 86

    Renowned animator Richard Williams, best known for his work on “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” died Friday at his home in Bristol, England, Variety has confirmed. He was 86. Williams was a distinguished animator, director, producer, author and teacher whose work has garnered three Oscars and three BAFTA Awards. In addition to his groundbreaking work as [...]

  • Instinct

    Locarno Film Review: 'Instinct'

    Now that “Game of Thrones” has finally reached its conclusion, releasing its gifted international ensemble into the casting wilds, will Hollywood remember just what it has in Carice van Houten? It’s not that the statuesque Dutch thesp hasn’t been consistently employed since her startling 2006 breakout in Paul Verhoeven’s “Black Book,” or even that she’s [...]

  • Good Boys Movie

    Box Office: 'Good Boys' Eyes Best Original Comedy Opening of 2019

    Universal’s “Good Boys” is surpassing expectations as it heads toward an estimated $20.8 million opening weekend at the domestic box office following $8.3 million in Friday ticket sales. That’s well above earlier estimates which placed the film in the $12 million to $15 million range, marking the first R-rated comedy to open at No. 1 [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content