MEXICO CITY — David Pablos, who impressed with Cannes’ 2015 Un Certain Regard player “The Chosen Ones,” is attached to direct “La Caída” (Dive), a highly topical tale of sexual abuse in the ultra-competitive sporting world of high-board diving.
From an original idea by Karla Souza, “Dive” is produced by Ana Laura Rascón and Souza with a view to Souza starring in the film as its protagonist.
Martin Scorsese producer Gaston Pavlovich has a first option on the project which Rascón, Souza and Pablos will introduce at this week’s Los Cabos Festival Industry Meet-Mart.
“Dive” is inspired by a real case in Mexico. More than that, however, its virtue looks to be its homing in the singular power structure which facilitates abuse – the reduction of authority to a single person at a time when the victim’s lack the power, mechanism or credibility to protest;, and its focus on the protagonist’s battle to persuade herself that she has been a victim of abuse in the first place.
“Dive” turns on a girl, Mariel, to be played by Souza, a diver training for the Olympic Games, whose life changes radically when it is revealed that her diving partner Nadia has been abused for years by their trainer, Braulio. The man’s conduct is brought to light by happenstance when Nuria’s mother discovers her daughter’s diary, which describes the trainer actions from when Nadia was a small girl. Nadia’s mother goes to the media. Confronted by the scandal, Mariel fears separation from Braulio and persuades Nadia to deny any kind of sexual abuse.
It takes Mariel time to realize Braulio has done anything wrong at all. She was in love with him; they had a relationship, she argues to herself. It is only when she cottons on to other girls’ in the diving team having been victims of sexual abuse, that Mariel begins to confront the trainer’s manipulation and lies.
Researching the film, “the girls we talked to repeatedly say they were in love with the trainer. Their confidence and career is in his hands. He knows their techniques, and how to make them better, and how to make them feel better (or worse)” Rascón said.
Official statistics in Mexico are alarming, Pablos said. 71% of athletes have suffered some kind if harassment or abuse; the trainer committed these acts in 67% of cases.
Pablos said “Dive” would look not only at the consequences off sexual abuse and the divers’ daily lives, but at such context as the divers’ families, isolation, and guilt. “The material touches very personal issues, and here is where is the heart of the film,” he added.
In development for two years, the heart of “Dive” is Mariel’s struggle to confront her reality, the trainer’s actions and separate them from fantasy, said Rascón.
The Harvey Weinstein revelations “have been very relevant,” she added. “Some of the girls even wrote to us, saying: ‘Look what’s happening. 10 years ago, nobody listened to us.”
Pablos will finish a first draft screenplay by November.