MADRID – Promising well for its fest career at Cannes or beyond as well as distribution in France, Emilio Torres’ “The Winter,” an Argentine snow-bound Western, walked off with the top two of prizes on offer at the 29th Toulouse-San Sebastian Films in Progress, which wrapped Friday night at France’s Toulouse CineLatino Festival: the Toulouse Films in Progress Prize and the Cine Plus In Progress Special Prize.
Maitre Alberdi’s “Children” won a Special Mention from the Films in Progress jury, Brazilian Felipe Braganza’s “Don’t Swallow My Heart, Alligator Girl!” a nod from the International Confederation of Art Cinemas (CICAE).
Part of a welling body of work, both movies and TV series, which tap into a far more sobering post-crisis reading of the essential human condition breaking with the progress ethos engendered by the industrial revolution and its cousin, the Enlightenment, “The Winter,” sparse in dialogue, dominated by its landscape, marks the directorial debut of by Torres, a longtime Argentine a.d on movies by Marco Bechis, Miguel Courtois and Emmanuel Crialese and co-scribe of Daniel Burman’s early features “Waiting for the Messiah” (2000) and “Every Stewardess Goes to Heaven” (2002).
Set in southern Patagonia, it stars Argentina’s Cristian Salguero (“Paulina”) and Chile’s Alejandro Sieveking (“The Club”), centering on a young man brought in to replace an ageing foreman on a huge estate in the wilds of Patagonia. Winter is tuning up; his predecessor resolves to force him to leave.
“This is a story of survivors, in a corner of the world where time has stopped and winter seems never ending, where isolation, alienation and that strange and violent harmony we call nature conditions everything,” Torres has written.
He added: “Showing the hidden side of a postcard from Patagonia, mud, blood, tangible, brutal image which gives us an echo of a world which is as primitive as it is essential,” “The Winter” is a story which more than describing the world’s condition asks questions about the human condition.”
Receiving financial support from Argentina’s INCAA film-TV board, Argentina’s public TV and Tronco, a private investor, “The Winter” is produced out of Argentina by Ezequiel Borovinsky at Wanka Cine and Alejandro Israel’s Ajimolido and from France by Raphael Berdugo’s Cité Films, in co-production with Orange Studio. Cité Films also handles international sales.
As a project, “Winter” took a top LCI Seguros award at Mexico’s 2014 Guadalajara Co-Production Meeting.
Chilean Maite Alberdi’s awaited third feature, “Los Niños” (Children), a 2013 Tribeca Latin American Media Arts Fund winner and Sundance Documentary Film Program grantee, centers on a group of friends with Down Syndrome who are facing a stage in their life they are not prepared for: middle age. They fondly imagine that, with their parents now dead, they can grow up and get married. The truth of the matter is that Chilean state support for people with Down Syndrome ends at 25.
“Don’t Swallow My Heart, Alligator Girl!” reps the latest from screenwriter-director Felipe Bragança, who co-penned Karim Ainouz’s “Praia do Futuro,” a 2014 Berlin Competition player, and his “Love for Sale,” and co-helmed “The Escape of the Monkey Woman,” which played Cannes Directors’ Fortnight. An adventure love story, it is set against the background of conflict between an indigenous community and farmers on the Brazil-Paraguay border.
Toulouse’s Films in Progress prize takes in a welter of post-pro services, grants and promotion offered by the Centre National du Cinema et de l’Image Animée (CNC) film agency; France’s Ccas, a community activity association of France’s gas and electricity sector; Commune Image, a Paris-based post-production house; indie producer Eaux Vives; Firefly, an on-set-to-post software pipeline company; Mactari, a sound-mix specialist; and Titra TV, famed for its subtitling services.
The CICAE, an arthouse association, will promote “Don’t Swallow My Heart” among its 2,000 cinema members, and to the rank-and-file of Europa Distribution.