MORELIA, Mexico – Joshua Gil, whose feature debut “Maldad” took home a clutch of awards in 2015, has won a $10,000 cash prize and a year of mentorship from the Tribeca Film Institute for his docu-fiction project “Sanctorum” (“The Sanctuary”). Presented at the 14th Morelia Int’l Film Festival’s work-in-progress program, Impulso Morelia, “Sanctorum” tracks a young boy in search of his mother who has been snatched by drug dealers. He ventures into a mysterious forest to find her and here is where fantasy elements come in.
Gil and his producer, Marion d’Ornano, are seeking a non-pro mother and her toddler son who have experienced similar situations and emotional turmoil.
“The beginning and the end of the film are set, but I want the middle part to be fluid and open to whatever happens as we shoot, just like in a documentary,” said Gil. “But it has to be organic,” he added.
Plans include shooting guerilla-style on a shoestring budget of $300,000 in the states of Oaxaca, Guerrero and Michoacan. They have tapped Daniel Fernandez, the line producer of docu “Cartel Land,” to help them navigate these regions.
A graduate in cinematography from the Escac Barcelona film school, Gil got his first break in the biz by serving as an assistant camera operator in Carlos Reygadas’ stunning 2002 feature debut, “Japon.” He then worked as a DP on various shorts, features and docus as he continued his studies abroad with filmmakers such as Patricio Guzman and the Quay brothers.
The narco-violence in his country is a recurring theme in Gil’s work. But “Sanctorum” promises to be different. “The story takes place within the context of the violence in Mexico, but I want to make something more hopeful, more mystical,” said Gil.