Cannes: Buenos Aires Lab Showcases Works-in-Progress

With Latin America’s national cinemas mostly only launching or rebooting from past decade, the region is a seemingly bottomless well of new talent. The Buenos Aires Lab (BAL), part of the Argentinian capital’s hugely popular Bafici film festival, was the first fest industry platform to launch a works-in-progress competition, back in 2003. In 2013, BAL teamed with the Cannes Market to bow the festival’s first-ever pix-in-post showcase. Presented May 19 to an industry audience at Cannes’ Palais des Festivals, the five titles in BAL Goes to Cannes were selected from 14 seen at BAL in April. Many, maybe all, will hit major fests.

Ana Cristina Barragan (Ecuador)
Shamed by her physical coming of age and fearing bullying at school, Alba goes to live with her father — in bad need of a haircut, a new car, the mod cons of social acceptability — when her mother falls ill. Barragan says she admires Lucrecia Martel and the Dardennes, and it shows in her debut “Alba,” a tale of halting father-daughter acceptance, in which a detail or the use of physical space is as important as words, and in which coming of age means trusting one’s individual emotions, not the prejudices of a confomist society.

Camila Rodriguez Triana and Hermes Paralluelo (Colombia)
A docu feature chronicling the temporary occupants of one bedroom in a humble hostel in Cali, Colombia: One mends his bike, an old couple dance to radio music, a ventriloquist removes his white face paint. Per Rodriguez Triana, the filmmakers have shot for six months, but the film is still in production. “Although the film shoots an enclosed space, it’s about people’s dreams, emotions, hinting at their life stories which are out of frame,” says Paralluelo, whose “Not All Is Vigil,” about his own grandparents, proved a popular fest item, clinching sales to Spain and Argentina.

Ariel Rotter (Argentina)
Set in the ’60s and shot in black-and-white, “Incident Light,” from Ariel Rotter, whose “The Other” was a 2007 Berlin Jury Grand Prix winner, pictures a young widow, already being courted for a second marriage, forced to fast-track her mourning for her dead husband. Inspired by Rotter’s own family photos, “Incident Light” sidesteps melodrama to testify to the pressures on women to form a family, especially if they already have children.

Gaston Solnicki (Argentina)
A multiple prizewinner at April’s BAL, “Philosophy for Princesses,” Solnicki’s first fiction feature, packs a powerful pedigree: Solnicki is coming off two cult docus including “Papirosen,” a Film Movement U.S. pickup; producer Marion Klotz was formerly at Memento Films Intl.; Paula Zyngierman, at Maravillacine (“Mapa de sueños latinoamericanos,” “Marilyn”) also produces; co-scribe Maria Alche was the star of Lucrecia Martel’s “Holy Girl,” and is also a budding director; and Martin Retjman, for many the founding father of the New Argentine Cinema, offers assistance. An angsty portrait of the daughters of Argentina’s comfortably well-off classes, prisoners of their lack of necessity, “Philosophy” is set for a fall-winter shoot in Buenos Aires, having already lensed in Uruguay’s Punta del Este.

Roberto Doveris (Chile)
A teen psycho-thriller about plant souls invading human bodies, “The Plants” features 17-year-old Flor who looks after her comatose brother, invites strangers to her home, toys with them sexually and falls under the spell of a comic. An original coming-of-age tale laced with pop culture, “The Plants” sports themes of adolescent angst and parentless children that tips its hat to “The Future,” by Alicia Scherson,  “Plants’” associate producer. One of BAL’s buzz titles and almost inevitably big fest-bound.

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