SAN SEBASTIAN – Two of the Spanish-speaking world’s most energetic distaff producers, Mariela Besuievsky at Madrid Tornasol Films and Mariana Secco, based out of Salado in Uruguay’s Montevideo, are linking to produce “Memorias del calabozo,” an extraordinary true-life story of physical and above-all psychological resistance.
Alvaro Brechner, whose “Bad Day to Go Fishing” and “Mr. Kaplan” were both Uruguay’s Academy Award entries and the latter a Platino Award finalist, will direct. Latido Films, headed by Antonio Saura, will handle international sales.
Written by Brechner, and a majority Spanish co-production, “Memorias” was one of the standout projects presented at San Sebastian’s4th Europe-Latin America Co-production Forum, which runs Sept. 21-23.
A humanist survival drama, the true-fact based “Memorias” begins in September 1973 as Uruguay’s falls under military dictatorship and nine captured Tupamaro guerrilla members are subjected to a solitary confinement which will last 12 years. How they survived is ˝Memorias’” story.
“’Memorias del calabozo’” is inspired by biographical facts of men who were subjected to a diabolical experiment via which the military dictatorship aimed to drive them mad, imprisoning them for 12 years in a state where they couldn’t talk, and could hardly see, eat or sleep,” Brechner, who has finished a first-version screenplay, told Variety.
He added: “What I’m interested in is how, with their minds and bodies pushed to the limit, they managed to survive, maintain their will and strength, recreate their world, vision, fantasy. However important it is to remember the past, I’m more interested in what we can learn today from it.”
Based on the same-titled memoirs of Mauricio Rosencof and Eleuterio Fernandez Huidobro, the story “impacted both Alvaro and me a lot. We wanted Mariana on board because she has worked with Alvaro before and I’ve known her for now a very long time,” Besiuevsky said. “This is a story of resistance, about how you can bend somebody’s body but not their spirit and mind.”
Per Secco, “Memorias” represents a step-up in scale for Brechner, incorporating scenes of popular protests in the run-up to the dictatorship. Exteriors will be shot in Uruguay, interiors in Spain. “Memorias” has won an Ibermedia Development award.
Besiuevsky’s credits at Tornasol include Academy Award winning “The Secret in Their Eyes,” Alex de la Iglesia’s Venice Silver Lion and screenplay winner, and Francis Ford Coppola’s “Tetro.”
Producing crossover (“Mr Kaplan”) and youth targeting movies (“High Five”), Salado is one of Uruguay’s most prominent film production houses. Its current slate also includes Carlos Ameglio’s Uruguay-set romzomcom “Kiken,” which Ameglio and Secco unveiled at San Sebastian’s Europe-Latin America Co-Production Forum. They will now segue with the project to the Austin Fantastic Market.
Emilio Mayorga contributed to this report