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Ventana Sur: ‘Stella,’ ‘Devil’ Make Ventana Caribe Cut

Four pix-in-post showcase aims to boost industry ties between Latin America and the Caribbean

Kiki Alvarez’s “Sharing Stella” and Maria Govan’s “Play the Devil” are two out of four features in post-production highlighted by Ventana Caribe, a new industry event at Ventana Sur, Latin America’s largest movie market.

“Sharing Stella” turns on a director seeking an actress for the role of Stella in a “A Streetcar Named Desire.”

“In ‘Sharing Stella,’ youth which no longer believes in politics meets Cuba on the verge of a transcendental shift in its relationship with U.S..” Characters include “a YouTuber without Internet, a director who looks for desire and an actress who is a beast in the jungle of the Caribbean’s post-socialism,” Nicolas Ordonez at Bogota’s Lapopular told Variety.

The Ventana Caribe event features not only four pix-in-post but also one-to-one co-production meetings, a video library selection available for potential industry buyers and partners and a presentation offered by Jonathan Ali, at the Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival (TTFF).

A fiction-docu hybrid, “‘Stella’ arises from a wish to share emotions, experiences and desires with a group of actors. It is an search for experience and epiphanies where we all share a sensual stupor, as Elia Kazan defines the character of Stella in ‘A Streetcar Named Desire,’” Alvarez told Variety. “Stella” is the third part of a trilogy formed by “Jirafas,” which played the 2013 Rotterdam Fest, and “Venice,” a 2014 Toronto Fest screener. Ivette Liang’s Galaxia 311 co-produces.

“Play The Devil” is produced, directed and written by Maria Govan, whose debut “Rain” world premiered in Toronto, took  the Audience Award at Bahamas Fest, and A New Visions Special Jury mention at Palm Springs, among other kudos. In “Devil,” a gifted 18-year-old from a village in Trinidad develops an unlikely friendship with a powerful businessman, which is set against the background of the carnal dance of the devil in Trinidad & Tobago Carnival. Play the Devil Pictures produces.

“‘Devil’ is about understanding the context of violence – to undress simplistic notions of morality. As a storyteller, I am drawn to the shadow of our psyche, looking with compassion at why people do things that we deem ‘wrong,’” Govan told Variety.

“The strength of our film is its uniqueness and authenticity.  We primarily cast locally with many non-professional actors. We recreated the ‘Jab’ [one of the varieties of devil played at Trinidad & Tobago Carnival] with a band of actual blue devils, and used local music to root the film deeply in Trinidad,” she added.

Ventana Sur partners with TTFF and the Caribbean Film Market on Ventana Caribe. The Caribbean Film Mart was launched this September and brought 30 industry players from all over the world to take meetings with representatives of 15 Caribbean projects. Mart received the backing of the European Union’s Belgium-based African Caribbean Pacific (ACP).

Founded in 2006, the Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival offers cinema from and about the Caribbean and hosts an industry program and networking facilities.

Ventana Caribe projects have been chosen among Spanish and non-Spanish-speaking cinema from the Caribbean region. Pitchs will be ten minutes long and followed by Q & A sessions. Section is regarded as a industry startup rendezvous and does not offer prizes. Directors and/or producers of all four films are alumni of TTFF, and either had films in competition or took part in activities or in the Caribbean Film Mart.

“First of all, we hope tangible benefits will accrue to the  projects that are in this inaugural edition of Ventana Caribe, and that it will be a real fillip on the road to their being completed. More generally, we wish to let it be known that Caribbean cinema exists, and is on the move. The industry is growing, with more and better films being made every year from all parts of the region,” Ali told Variety.

Mariel Brown and Fernanda Rossi at Trinidad and Tobago’s Savant Media produce a third entry in the Caribbean event: Brown’s “Unfinished Sentences,” a documentary and tribute to the helmer’s father, the well-known Caribbean poet, columnist and fiction writer Wayne Vincent Brown (“On The Coast”), who died in 2009.

“I started making “Sentences” – then just a series of interviews with people who were close to him- as a place for my grief, which nothing could diminish. The more work I did, the more I read my father’s writing, the more I found him. It has been an enormous happiness to me.  And there are larger truths that I am exploring about the nature of family, love, loss and art which I hope will connect with audiences,” said Brown.

Annabelle Mullen at Puerto Rico’s Belle Films produces “Demented,” helmed by Andres Ramirez. Pic follows Nathan, a successful photographer and the owner of Morbid Magazine, who has a secret from his past that haunts him. Unexpectedly, he begins to have blackouts every few hours only to wake up with a dead body next to him.

“‘Demented’ is a suspense action thriller filmed entirely in English for U.S. and worldwide distribution. It is a showcase of the creative talent, in front and behind the camera from Puerto Rico. Richard Tyson (“There’s Something about Mary”) is accompanied by local up-and-coming actors, Rodolfo Rodriguez, Tiffany Diaz and Robert Garcia Cooper.

“We made a genre movie that was outside the mold of the movies being filmed in the local Puerto Rican film industry and we want to offer audiences a unique experience full of suspense, thrills, dreams and surprises,” Belle Films’ Anabelle Mullen told Variety.

There is also a second Caribbean movie at Ventana Sur’s Blood Window Fantastic Films In Progress showcase, horror pic “Three Line: Sanksara,” a Trinidad and Tobago production. “Genre production, like most other things in the Caribbean industry at the present time, is in its infancy. Currently, genre product is coming out of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic for the most part; mostly romantic comedies and horror sci fi/fantasy films,” Ali said.

“Interestingly, an animated sci-fi feature, ‘Battledream Chronicle,’ out of Martinique, just premiered. It draws on the island’s folklore heritage, which is something I think you’ll see in sci-fi/fantasy/horror films coming out of the region over the next few years,” he added.

Ventana Sur’s 7th edition runs Nov. 30 – Dec 4 in Buenos Aires.

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