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‘Witness,’ ‘Scherzo,’ ‘Honeymoon’ Play Ventana Sur’s Bloody Work in Progress

Competition attests to build in Latin American genre pic production

‘Witness,’ ‘Scherzo,’ ‘Honeymoon’ Play Ventana Sur’s

MAR DEL PLATA — Buenos Aires-based Magma Cine, headed by Juan Pablo Gugliotta and Nathalia Videla Pena, has reteamed with Argentina’s Santiago Fernandez for “Intimate Witness,” one of six titles at Blood Window’s 2nd Bloody Works in Progress.

A Latin American pix-in-post genre showcase. BWIP unspools Dec. 2-4 at Ventana Sur in Buenos Aires.

Three other BWIP titles, all from Mexico, – Adrian García Bogliano’s “Scherzo Diabólico,” Isaac Ezban’s “The Similar,” and Diego Cohen’s “Honeymoon,”- underscore Mexico’s rapid new build as a genre pic production hub.

But Ventana Sur’s Blood Window is part of a more general ramp-up of genre production across Latin America.

There was of course Latin American genre production of course before Ventana Sur. But the existence of a platform such as Blood Window, which also organizes a Latin American Fantasy Film showcase at Cannes, will boost production levels all the more,” said San Sebastian Fest director Jose Luis Rebordinos, who curates Bloody Work in Progress.

Helming “The Second Death,” an atmospheric rural procedural-come-mystery chiller which world premiered at 2012’s Sitges Fantastic Film Fest, self-styled genre auteur Fernandez established himself as a scribe-turned-helmer to track. Sold by Matteo Lovadina’s Paris-based Reel Suspects, “Death” closed Germany, Spain, Taiwan, Japan, Turkey, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay. Magma iscurrently in negotiations with a significant satellite pay TV player for a Latin American rights deal, said producer Juan Pablo Gugliotta.

Co-produced by Rodrigo Milanesi and Juan Aura at Mexico’s Nimbus Comunicación, and an “easier film for the market to place, reaching a larger audience,” Fernandez told Sci Fi World Latininoamerica, “Witness” also marks a move away from horror to a thriller format. The story of the two brothers, Facundo, a powerful lawyer who’s having an affair with Violeta, brother Rafa’s girlfriend, “Intimate Witness” sees Rafa discover her dead in his apartment. Facundo decides they have to get rid of the body: The night turns into a perverse game of spite,

violence, revenge and death.

Bloody Work in Progress forms part of Ventana Sur’s Blood Window, a Latin American Fantastic Film Market that is one of the only two of its kind focusing on Latin America, with Austin’s Fantastic Film Market.

In “Scherzo, ” the formerly Argentina-based Bogliano (“Penumbra,” “I’ll Never Die Alone”) rings yet another change in a career of genre permutations, following English-language U.S. war vet/werewolf tale “Late Phases.” which bowed at March’s SXSW, that in turn came after his 2012 Austin Fantastic Fest five-prize winner, “Here Comes the Devil,”

Chosen by Ventana Sur from Austin Fantastic Market, in part of an ongoing partnership between the two fests, and produced by Mexico’s Andrea Quiroz and Carlos Melendez and L.A-based Joshua Sobel, “Scherzo” weighs in as a black comedy about a separating and out-of-work accountant’s kidnapping a teen girl. She proves his worst nightmare.

“Scherzo” stars Francisco Barreiro (“We Are What We Are,” “Here Comes the Devil”), Daniela Soto Vell, and cult Cuban actor-director Jorge Molina (“Juan of the Dead”).

Also at Ventana Sur to screen his completed debut, fest fave “The Incident,” scribe helmer Isaac Ezban will present “The Similar,” which he describes as “psychological sci-fi,” channeling “The Twilight Zone,” as was also the case with “The Incident.”

In “Similar,” eight people shut up in a bus station on a stormy night suddenly begin to look in physical appearance like just one of the travelers. “Similar” is pointedly set on Oct. 2 1968, the date of Mexico’s Tlatelolco massacre of students by military and police.

“Good science fiction always has a political or social context. I wanted to set this story in the paranoiac and rebellious society of ‘60s Mexico,” Ezban told Mexico’s Morbido Fest website.

“The curious thing and originality of ‘Similar’ is that most horror films illustrate the fear of the different; “Similar” turns on the fear of sameness,”  Rebordinos commented.

Starring Hector Kotsifakis (“Guten Tag, Ramon”) and Paulina Amed, Cohen’s “Honeymoon” is a rapid follow-up to what is claimed to be Mexico’s first found-footage movie, paranormal-themed “Strayed,” which world premiered at Morbido Fest this month. Per Blood Window, “Honeymoon” centers on Jorge, a eccentric, lonely doctor who kidnaps Isabel, his neighbor, in an apparent effort to submit her to a classic conditioning experiment which will make her his woman. But appearances often hide a more terrifying truth.

Pic “is about kidnapping, torture, graphic explicit violence. It’s really tough, takes place in a basement,” Cohen said in an interview for Mexican film agency IMCINE.

Spanning gore, allegorical sci-fi, thrillers, haunted house and basement horrors, the variety of films received this year at BWIP was “very broad,” said Rebordinos.

But genre production now extends beyond its traditional bases of Mexico and Argentina. Companies are also attempting to move from alternative circuits towards the industrial mainstream.

Bloody Work in Progress (BWIP) also features “The Black Fables,” a four-part anthology turning on a group of kids who embark on a macabre adventure populated by Brazilian pop horror icons, such as Saci. Two of Brazil’s biggest horror directors helm: Rodrigo Aragao (“Bloodbath, “ at 2013’s BWIP), and unflagging vet José “Coffin Joe” Mojica  Marins. Petter Baiestorf (“Zombio 2: Chimarrao Zombies”), Joel Caetano (“D.R.”) also direct episodes.

“Dark, dirty and fun, with a lot of blood, monsters and special effects, and very much a genre film,” “The Black Fables” is “full of references to and love for genre cinema,” Rebordinos said.

“With this film, our company aims to score a bigger audience with high quality at a low cost,” said producer Mayra Alarcon.

Helmed by Ecuador’s Houlberg, who produced Victor Arregi’s “Break a Leg,” and a haunted house horror tale, “Thirst” turns on Sara, 23, blind, on a weekend with her b.f., cousin and cousin’s b.f. to her family’s estate. Its dark past awakens unexpected carnal desires.

“It’s highly atmospheric and you’re never quite certain whether things are really happening or not,” Rebordinos commented.

Launched last year, Blood Window is already becoming a fixture. Rebordinos underscored the presence – in Blood Window for as panel – of fest heads from near all the top fantasy fests worldwide: Busan, Fantasia, Fright Fest, Pifan, Morbido, Austin Fantastic Fest, Bogota’s    Zinema Zombie Fest, Brazil’s Fantaspoa and the San Sebastian Horror Film Week.  Among panelists at other tables: XYZ Films, Raven Banner, Jinga Films and France’s Reel Suspects.