BUENOS AIRES – Gustavo Hernandez, who broke out to international recognition and sales with his debut, the Elle Driver-sold 2011 Cannes hit ‘La casa muda,’ is lining up psychological paranormal thriller ‘Persomnia’ as his third directorial outing.
Set up at Montevideo’s Mother Superior Films, where Hernandez partners with Ignacio Cucucovich, who will produce, “Persomnia” could also mark Hernandez’s English-language debut, Hernandez said Tuesday at Ventana Sur.
Shot as one continuous take and the subject of a U.S. remake starring Elizabeth Olsen and directed by “Open Water’s” Chris Kentis and Lara Lau, “La casa muda” was shot in an isolated countryside house. “Local God,” Hernandez’s second film, seen at September’s Austin Fantastic Festival, unspools in a cave where a demonic force unleashes a rockband members’ worst nightmares.
Written by Juma Fodde Roma (“Splendorous Garden of the Heart”), “Persomnia” continues Hernandez’s hallmark claustrophobia: A young actress joins a radical theater troupe, replacing a member who has disappeared, which is experimenting with days without sleep in order to perform all the better a play first created and put on in the now abandoned psychiatric ward 30 years ago and whose original performers, all inmates, died in a terrible fire, the play’s climax. As the days pass, the actors reach new levels of sensitivity, opening up to the spirits in the hospital in order to achieve unique performances, as these spirits drive the play towards the same terrible ending.
Film packs an important twist in its narrative.
“There have been experiments on insomnia, what happens to people after four, five, six days without sleep. It’s as if their sensibility, perceptions open up to another world,” said Hernandez, adding that “Persomnia” “is a horror film” which “also talks about madness in art and just how far artists will go to create something which transcends.”
“This is a beautiful path to follow to work on fear, on the line dividing the real from unreal, or from death.”
Hernandez and Cucucovich aim to co-produce with Sebastian Aloi’s Buenos Aires/L.A.-based Aeroplano Films. They are open to structuring “Persomnia” as an international co-production and shooting in English, Cucucovich said. Actors in latter case could be American, English and Canadian. Fodde Roma has completed a first-draft screenplay. At Ventana Sur, they are presenting the project to select potential partners. With above 60% of the action unspooling in the same place, and six actors, movie looks set to have a contained budget, allowing Mother Superior to finance if necessary through a combination of own investment and soft-moneys, Cucocovich said.
Among other Mother Superior projects, “We’re Not Going to Fiesta Nibiru” the fourth film by Manuel Facal (“High Five”), a sci-fi dark comedy with a good dose of suspense, is now in post-production, as is the Fodde Roma-directed “Splendorous Garden of the Heart.”
At Ventana Sur’s Beyond the Window, Mother Superior will be unveiling Thursday Facal’s anticipated next movie, “El grano” (The Zit), a high-concept horror comedy.