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San Sebastian: Fernandez Almendras, Hendler, Rivas Bound For Films in Progress

Latin American pix-in-post channel simmering outrage of region’s young

MADRID –Highly awaited new movies from Chile’s Sundance-prized Alejandro Fernandez Almendras and Marialy Rivas, plus Uruguay’s Daniel Hendler, are set for San Sebastian’s Films in Progress pix-in-post competition.

Dominated by Chile – with three out of six titles – this year’s Films in Progress looks to be an incendiary edition with all six directors casting a sometimes sardonic gaze at often hot-button issues now driving Latin Americans onto the streets in mass protest: the lack of accountability of the rich; the fecklessness of political classes; homelessness and poverty; miscarriages of justice by law courts, the police and military alike. Rivas, meanwhile, focuses on an explosive mixture of religion and sex.

Sebastian Lelio’s Funny Balloons-sold “Gloria” won 2012’s Films in Progress, went on to take best actress at Berlin and see multiple sales and significant overseas box office. A 2013 Films in Progress highlight, Fernandez Almendras’ “To Kill a Man” snagged a sales agent at San Sebastian –Film Factory – then a Sundance Grand Jury Prize. Jayro Bustamante’s 2014 Films in Progress standout “Itxcanul,” again a Film Factory buy at San Sebastian, scooped Berlin’s 2015 Silver Bear Alfred Bauer Award, then sold worldwide.

Given such a track record and this year’s lineup, 2015’s Films in Progress will see significant industry interest among sales agents and distributors attending San Sebastian.

All three Chilean movies are based on true-life cases, a sign of how the continent’s cinema is being overtaken by reality.

“Much Ado” is set up at Jirafa Films, producer of the latest films by Alicia Scherson (“The Future”) and Marcela Said (2015 Berlin co-production winner “Los Perros”), with Rivas two of Latin America’s most talked-up distaff directors.

Written by Fernandez-Almendras and lawyer Jeronimo Rodriguez, “Much Ado” is inspired by hit-and-run cases such as that of Martin Larrain, the son of a bigwig conservative politician charged with involvement in an accident that left the victim dead, but the driver absolved by a Chilean court in 2014.

Maintaining the case is more complex than some people think and, as in “To Kill a Man,” and bringing psychological depth to a film with genre tropes, Fernandez Almendras will shoot the film from the point-of-view of Agustin, one of the car’s back-seat passengers, producer Augusto Matte (pictured with Almendras) told Variety.

“The Princess” is set up at Chile’s Fabula, producer of “Gloria” and Pablo Larrain’s Cannes winner “No,” Berlin winner “The Club” and now “Neruda,” with “No” star Gael Garcia Bernal. Larrain moved waves at Cannes when Wild Bunch’s new L.A.-based company Insiders announced he will direct Natalie Portman as Jacqueline Kennedy in “Jackie,” produced by Darren Aronofsky and Fabula’s Juan de Dios Larrain.

Landing a Sundance screenwriting award in the World Cinema Dramatic section, “Young & Wild” depicted a 17-year-old girl from a strict evangelical family, as she explores her sexual duality, portrayed via her Internet blog. Retaining the religious background, “The Princess” appears to up the ante. This time round, the protagonist is an 11-year-old girl, a family sect member chosen to procreate the leaders of a new world order. But her transition to womanhood proves violent as she explores her sexuality with a boy at school.

There’s good word-of-mouth on the third Chilean Films in Progress title, “Rara,” from Pepa San Martin, whose “La Ducha” won a 2011 Berlin Festival DAAD Short Film Prize and best short film at the New York. Intl. Latino Film Fest. Seen from the POV of her eldest daughter, “Rara” narrates the true-life case of a Chilean judge who lost custody of her children for being a lesbian.

“A comedy with political thriller elements,” per thesp-helmer-scribe-producer Hendler, a Berlin Silver Bear best actor for Daniel Burman’s “Lost Embrace,” “The Ambush” (aka “The Pidgeon House”) explores Hendler’s leitmotifs of self-discovery and reinvention. It charts the shenanigans of Latin America’s political classes, as gurus and consultants design a brand image for a politico on-the-make. Hendler’s debut, hangdog dramedy “Norberto’s Deadline,” was a favorite at San Sebastian’s 2009 Films in Progress, a strong year. Producer Micaela Sole presented “The Ambush” at San Sebastian’s 2012 inaugural Europe-Latin America Co-production Forum.

In “The Cambridge Squatter,” Brazilian vet Eliane Caffe returns to the world of 1995’s “Caligrama” in a portrayal of Sao Paulo’s homeless –,their joys, dramas, divergences, and constant fear of eviction.

Rolling off yet another true-event, Venezuela’s 1988 El Amparo Massacre, when soldiers and special force police killed 14 fishermen, alleging –spuriously – that they were guerrilla operatives, is the focus of Roger Calzadilla’s “Sobrevivientes'” which tells how the only two survivors have to battle for their lives, even after the massacre. Movie is a bigscreen makeover of the stage play by Karen Valecillos, who wrote the screenplay.

Films in Progress unspools twice yearly, at Toulouse’s Cinelatino Fest in March and September’s San Sebastian.

Four rough-cut titles from 2014’s San Sebastian’s Films in Progress return: Eugenio Canevari’sPaula competes in San Sebastian’s New Directors section, “Ixcanul,” Salvador de Solar’s “Magallanes,” winner of Films in Progress top Industry Award, and Aly Muritiba’s To My Beloved now contend for fest’s Horizontes Award.

From Toulouse’s 2015 “Films in Progress,” Pablo Aguero’s winner “Eva Doesn’t Sleep” now plays in competition at San Sebastian, Sebastian Brahm’s “Sex Life of Plants” in New Directors, and Lorenzo Vigas’ “From Afar” in Horizontes Latinos, having competed at Venice.

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