Lima Festival: Peru’s Adrian Saba Preps ‘Toribio Bardelli’ (EXCLUSIVE)

UIP releases in Peruvian theaters on Jan. 16, “The Dreamer,” helmer's second feature, which competes at the festival

Adrian Saba
Courtesy of Adrian Saba

Adrian Saba, one of Peru‘s most internationally recognised young directors, is prepping his third feature film, “La erección de Toribio Bardelli” (The Erection of Toribio Bardelli), a satiric story laced with black humour.

The film is set-up at Animalita, the Lima-based outfit run by Carolina Denegri, the producer behind “The Cleaner” and “The Dreamer,” Saba’s first two features which impacted on the international festival circuit making Saba one of Peru’s best-known young directors.

Designed as an international co-production, “Toribio Bardelli’s” Peruvian producers are teaming with a still undisclosed Colombian partner, and looking for further co-producers. Their plan is to start filming by the end of 2017.

“Toribio” focuses on The Bardellis, a disintegrating family, where each member suffers very singular, even eccentric afflictions.

“As in my two previous films, I am interested in telling common but universal stories that connect at a more human level,” Adrian Saba told Variety.

“This time I want to tell a story about yearning. A feeling capable of becoming remorse, or blame or even materialise in the desire of an old man such as Toribio to have sex. This is a film about human development, an inner growth which has nothing to do with age,” he said.

The film will use the impossibility of Toribio Bardelli of achieving sexual functionality as “a great metaphor for the dysfunctionality affecting the lives of the characters of the story,” Saba said.

Since the beginning of his filming career, Adrian Saba has counted on the backing of U.K.-based sales house Film Republic, although its presence in “The Erection” hasn’t been confirmed.

At least in thematic terms, “The Erection of Toribio Bardelli” looks to mark a substantial change in Saba’s career.

Premiering at the 2013 San Sebastian Film Festival, where it received a special mention in its New Directors competition, and subsequently selected as Peru’s entry for the foreign-language film in 2014 Oscars, apocalyptic drama “The Cleaner” followed a forensic cleaner as a strange epidemic in Lima.

“The Dreamer” – a coming-of-age film centered on a young gang member who dreams of escaping his life of petty crime and ends up unable to distinguish between reality and fiction – launched this year at Berlin’s youth film section Generation 14plus.

Scheduled for a Peruvian commercial release on Jan 26, and distributed by UIP, “The Dreamer” has played at Switzerland’s Neuchatel and Korea’s Bucheon fantastic film fests. It now competes at Lima.

Saba and his team will be surrounded by their families and friends in Lima, a festival which was launched two decades ago by his father, Peruvian actor, director and playwright Edgar Saba, who will be honored this year at the fest.

“I’ve grown up with the Lima festival, so it’s nice to be part of the party from the inside as any other filmmaker, not as the son who does not quite know where to stand,” he said.