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IFF Panama: Anarchy Triumphs as Primera Mirada Jury Award Two Cash Prizes

Julio Hernández Cordón and Ariel Escalante share the spoils

PANAMA – Julio Hernández Cordón’s “Te Prometo Anarquía,” won the lion’s share Tuesday of IFF Panama’s pioneering Central America/Caribbean pics-in-post showcase, Primera Mirada. “Te Prometo Anarquía,” a Guatemalan-Mexican co-production was awarded a cash prize of $20.000 by the jury on behalf of the festival, while $5.000 was awarded to Costa Rica’s “The Sound of Things” (“El sonido de las casa”), directed by Ariel Escalante.

The jury that had watched the rough cuts of the five finalists over two days, and met and spoken with the filmmakers, was made up of Spanish producer Elena Manrique; Pervuian actor Salvador del Solar, who also directed San Sebastian Films in Progress winner “Magallanes;” and Lourdes Cortes, director of Costa Rica film fund Cinergia, a key source of financing for many Central American movie.

Other films under consideration in Primera Mirada this year included  “Angélica,” from Puerto Rican first-timer Marisol Gómez-Mouakad;  “1991,” Guatemalan Sergio Ramírez’s follow-up to 2012’s multi-laureled “Distance,” and “Kenke,” from Panama’s own Enrique Pérez Him.

Love story “Te Prometo Anarquía” centers on Miguel, from a middle-class family, and Johnny, from a humble barrio, who are skateboarders, best friends and lovers. To finance their lifestyle, they sell their own blood, and those of their gang of skateboarders and acquaintances, to clandestine clinics, until a big delivery job for a mob goes wrong.

“’Te Prometo Anarquía’ is a lovely and heartfelt exploration of love and friendship. Beautifully shot, the film demonstrates Hernandez’s versatility and progression as a filmmaker. The scenes of the skateboarders in Mexico City, for instance, are kinetic and feel very realistic,” says producer Sandra Gomez at Interior XIII, a lynchpin production-distribution house on Mexico’s left-of-field arthouse scene told Variety prior to the screenings in Panama.

“The jury asked me if they could split the prize,” says the curator of Primera Mirada, Diana Sanchez, IFF Panama’s artistic director. “I said they could, and it was the jury that decided on the $20.000-$5.000 split.”

Sanchez is more than satisfied in how Primera Mirada has played out in its first year and confirmed to Variety that it will be repeated at the 5th festival next year. The hunt for next year’s finalists will begin just as soon as this festival winds down.

Despite 55 films from Central American and the Caribbean having been in consideration for the five festival slots, Sanchez says she would still like to keep it small and manageable at the festival. When asked about what tweeks she may make for 2016, she suggested introducing workshops for the filmmakers could be a new element.

“I also think I would like to give the filmmakers more time alone with the jury to discuss their films, as the purpose of Primera Mirada is to help the filmmakers and improve their films,” she adds.

Already this year the filmmakers involved in Primera Mirada had the valuable opportunity to meet and interact with some of the more experienced international filmmakers who were screening their films at this year’s festival, as well as to meet industry executives and the media.

Unspooling one month before Cannes, Primera Mirada offered sales agents and buyers a privileged dedicated window onto titles, talents and trends in Central America and the Caribbean, as they rapidly come on world cinema’s radar, aided in no small way by the IFF Panama. All five films that screened in Primera Mirada are now firmly showing up on industry and festival radars as films to check on.

John Hopewell contributed to this article.

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