Inspired by the film residence programs in Europe, Mexico is launching the Pueblo Magico film residency in the idyllic village of Tepoztlan, located about an hour from the capital. Founded by award-winning docu filmmaker Flavio Florencio (“Made in Bangkok”) who also established the AfricaLA film festival in Mexico, the Pueblo Magico is a three-week program running from Oct. 17 to Nov. 5 that will provide mentors, equipment, and all the tools necessary for tyro filmmakers to develop their debut or sophomore projects. Oscar-winning Spanish filmmaker Fernando Trueba (pictured, “Belle Epoque”) will be on hand for the inauguration and provide a Master Class.
A selection committee that included Florencio, Guanajato Fest director Lina Rodriguez, and cinematographer Maria Secco were overwhelmed by the sheer number of entries: 120 projects from a dozen countries received in 48 hours. “The projects were so interesting that we have accepted more than the requisite eight this year,” said Florencio.
The idea is to offer the residence program three times a year, lasting three weeks at a time. The next one is scheduled for March 2016. “We’d like to focus on American indie filmmakers then, as few applied this time,” said Florencio.
The residency is set in a lovely villa close to the center of Tepoztlan. “I launched this residency because I realized there was a need for such a space for budding filmmakers where they can be free of distractions and pressure,” said Florencio.
“Pueblo Magico offers its residents a less frenetic pace and a less impersonal approach to developing their projects, with time to enjoy the beauty of their surroundings, visit the pueblo and hang out with mentors,” he added. The serious business of relaxation will be led by yogi Namhari who will teach meditation and yoga.
After selecting the projects, the committee determines the needs of the filmmakers to find the right mentors for them. “If necessary, we’ll find not just film professionals but scientists, shamans or whatever sources they need,” said Florencio. Mentors include Mexican producers Laura Imperiale, Christian Valdelievre and Nicolas Celis; screenwriter Carlos Contreras; Danish directing and acting coach Birgitte Staermose, and festival pros/consultants Sydney Levine, Mara Fortes, Cristine Davila and Blanca Granados. Residents will also make a trip to D.F. for a private screenwriting session with Guillermo Arriaga.
Projects among the 10 residents include eight fiction features and two docus, the bulk of them debuts:
Faride Schroeder (Mexico)
“Por el Amor a mi Madre” (fiction)
A young teen realizes her mother is an imperfect and vulnerable human being.
Luis Horacio Pineda (Mexico)
“La Cosecha de los Naranjos” (fiction)
A group of teens affected by an accident 15 years ago in the nursery Guarderia ABC seek to avenge those responsible for it.
Florian Seufert (Germany)
“Dragonflies Don’t Die” (fiction)
Florian gathers his family to analyze the significance of belonging to a family he did not choose.
Alexander Albrecht (Switzerland)
“Brooklyn Treehouse” (fiction)
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, a group of teens visit New York in response to a call from Airbnb to share an apartment.
Wernonika Mliczewska (Poland)
“Where the Grass is Greener” (fiction)
A Jamaican dreams of living in Ethiopia while an Ethiopian family sends their son to London to seek a better life.
Antonella Sudassi (Costa Rica)
“El Despertar de la Hormigas” (fiction)
A young mother realizes that she has never asked herself what she plans to do with her life and now has to face the reality of her own circumstances.
Mak Chun Kit (Singapore)
Documentarian Mak Chun Kit returns to Tanzania eight years after he volunteered to find out how his friends there have fared.
Mauricio Fernandez (Mexico)
“La Jauria” (fiction)
A pack of dogs kill a herd of cows in a remote Andean hamlet, forcing village elders to make a sacrifice for the future of their youth.
Pablo Perez Lombardini (Mexico)
“Los Suenos de Geronimo” (fiction)
A six-year-old boy runs away and comes upon a haunted village in the desert.
Maria Fernanda Galindo (Mexico)
Two women fight to defend the rights of a group of women who seek the escape the misogyny of their communities.