Guadalajara 12th Co-Production Meet: Love Conquers (Nearly) All in ‘Candelaria’

Jhonny Hendrix ‘s Cuban-set tragicomedy to shoot by August; Cinecolor releases ‘Saudo' in July

GUADALAJARA — Helmer-scribe-producer Jhonny Hendrix burst onto Colombia’s movie scene with “Choco,” one of the first Colombian films to delve into the lives of Colombians of African descent. Aside from screening at Berlinale’s Panorama sidebar, it opened the 2012 Cartagena Int’l Film Festival. Memento Films handled its international sales.

“Candelaria,” selected as one of the 30 projects at Guadalajara’s Co-Production Meet, is his third pic. Sophomore pic “Saudo,” a mystical thriller set in the Pacific coast of Colombia, is currently in post.

Hendrix is currently fielding offers from international sales agents for “Candelaria,” which is set during the “special period” in ‘90s Cuba when a beleaguered Russia had withdrawn its support and Cuba plunged into a period of deep economic hardship.

What is “Candelaria” about? What inspired you to write it?

I was in Havana with “Choco” for the capital’s film festival some three years ago when I met a nearly 90-year old woman who told me her life story. Her name was Candelaria, the name of the child I nearly had with my first love. “Candelaria” is loosely based on this woman’s story, which centers on a childless couple in their 60s who serve as a prism through which we see Cuba during the ‘special period.’ One day, the woman finds a camera at the hotel where she works, and the husband starts filming her. The game reignites their passion, which allows them to survive the hardships of those times.

When are you planning to film it and where?

I hope to start principal photography in August; I will be casting in Havana for Cuban actors and also seeking a German actor for one of the secondary roles. We’re still in talks with both Colombian broadcasters RCN and Caracol to see which one will back us.

How do you plan to film “Candelaria”?

I plan to shoot “Candelaria” in anamorphic 35 mm format in order to capture a Havana of contrasting greys. I want to recapture the mood and style of Michael Haneke’s “ Amour” and the aesthetics of Won Kar Wai’s “In the Mood for Love.” Cuban music plays an integral part. In essence, my film is a homage to Cuba.

Who are your co-producers to date?

Aside from my company Antorcha Films, Germany’s Razor Films and Cuba’s La Quinta Avenida are likely to board the project. I hope to find a producer from Central America or Europe. Its budget is close to $700,000. We hope to be tapping some international film funds, too.

What happened to your project with Jada Pinkett, “Scribe”?

We couldn’t close financing but we’ve been in talks the past few months so we hope to get it going by the end of the year. Its budget is $4 million, quite high for Colombia.

 What’s your upcoming film “Saudo” about?

“Saudo” means ‘the meeting of souls’ in the indigenous Pacific Colombian language. It has a mystical “Sixth Sense” feel to it and features the myths and legends of witchcraft in Pacific Colombia, something that hasn’t been brought to the big screen yet. We shot it with a small crew on a $750,000 budget. Cinecolor releases it in Colombia on July 14; we hope to be sending it to festivals once it’s ready in about a month.