Tatiana Leite at Brazil’s Bubbles Project, producer of “Hopefuls,” which opens Karlovy Vary’s Forum of Independents, has boarded “Nona,” from Chile’s Camila Jose Donoso, and Maria Alche’s “Immersed Family.”
Both are anticipated movies from breakthrough Latin American women directors produced by femme producers. “Nona” follows up Donoso’s “Naomi Campbel,” a talked-up debut: “Immersed” marks the first feature from actress-turned-director Alche, star of Lucrecia Martel’s “The Holy Child,” who impressed as a helmer with her short “Noelia.”
The movies and now co-pro deals with Bubbles also reflect a bigger picture: a new Latin American indie scene where women belatedly but increasingly call the shots as producers and directors, especially in Argentina and Chile, but also in Brazil, and where Latin American producers are ever more looking to produce across their region, as well as with Europe and the U.S. — thanks in part to a game-changing Brazilian government new minority co-production fund.
Often sophisticated, and often questioning, a mix of arthouse and more mainstream tropes, the movies also question clichés about the continent, such as in the FiGa/BR-sold “Hopefuls,” produced with Crisis Productivas, the credence that soccer is a passport to fame and fortune in Brazil.
Lead produced by Rocio Romero at Chile’s Mimbre Producciones, whose credits include “Naomi Campbel” and Roberto Doveris’ “The Plants,” a standout at Cannes Film Market’s 2015 BAL Goes to Cannes, “Nona” will now be co-produced by Mimbre, Bubbles Project and Alexa Rivero, a former producer at France’s Memento Films who has now hung her own shingle, Altamar Films.
Presented at 3 Puertos Cine, an initiative of Argentina’s Bafici, Chile’s Australab and the Rotterdam Fest, as well as a second prize winner at Mexico’s RivieraLab, “Nona” portrays a personality little subject to social convention: 66-year-old Josefina, who has retreated from a radical past in a city – three male lovers, a crime of passion, a hobby of making Molotov cocktails – to a coastal backwater. But after Josefina has a cataracts operation, some houses in her village suffer strange fires as Josefina’s past appears to flame once more.
“Camila is young, talented at part of the new generation of female directors in Chile, The screenplay for “Nona’ is very funny and at the same time very sophisticated,” Leite said.
Maria Alche’s “Immersed Family” is another woman’s drama, here about a woman in her mid-50s. It is lead produced by Pasto Cine’s Barbara Francisco, co-producer of “The Student,” the debut of Argentina Santiago Mitre who won Cannes 2015 Critics Week with “Paulina,” and producer of Juan Schnitman’s “El Incendio” and Maximiliano Schonfeld’s 2012 Bafici Special Jury Prize winner “Germania.”
“Maria Alche’s vision of her protagonist is quite unique,” Leite said. “For me, a Brazilian isolated by language, and by the dimension of my own territory, it is thrilling to discover so much complicity and so many similarities with producers in other parts of Latin America,” she added.
On larger projects, Leite may form part of a trilateral Latin America-Europe co-production or team with further Brazilian partners.
Outside Bubbles, Leite is working, for instance, with Esquina Films, the production label of Brazilian director Julia Murat, Juliette Lepoutre at France’s Still Moving and Julia Solomonoff and Felicitas Rafo at Cepa Audiovisual to produce Murat’s “Pendular,” a portrait of a romantic couple, both artists. It is scheduled to shoot at the end of the year.
Leite’s association with women producers and directors was not premeditated, but may be intuitive, she said. It does, however, observe simple mechanisms where new film biz entrants turn to other newcomers and new talent to fire up their business. Many in Latin America are now women.
Bubbles is also teaming with Rio de Janeiro’s Zohar Films and TV Zero, headed by Roberto Berliner and Rodrigo Letier, a partner on three Bubbles projects in all, to co-produce “Transamazonica,” from South African Pia Marais (“Layla Fourie”), which is lead produced by Germany’s Pandora Films. Marais will shortly travel to Manaus to continue research for the film, Leite said.
Given that “Hopefuls” was her first production, Leite’s hyper-activity is one sign of sustained vitality in the still strongly state-backed Brazilian movie industry, especially for companies working in international co-production.
The winner of Locarno’s 2014 works-in-progress Carte Blanche, which focused on Brazil, “Hopefuls” gradually unfolds the flipside of the Brazilian Dream.
Written by Rosenfeld and Pedro Freire, it revolves around Junior, who plays for a small coastal town club in the state of Rio. But he’s not as talented, focused or outgoing as his friend (Sergio Malheiros), the team’s star who gets a professional contract; his girlfriend gets pregnant; his Brazilian Dream fades; and his frustration slow boils.
“Instead of telling a success story, about the one in a million, ‘Hopefuls’ is about the majority of Brazilians,” Leite said.
Junior is played by Ariclenes Barroso, seen in “Tattoo,” wbo started out at the age of 9, acting in Teatro Oficina, one of Brazil’s most important theater companies, created by Jose Celso Martinez Correa.