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San Sebastian: Alicia Scherson’s ‘1989,’ Fernando Frías’ ‘Borderless,’ Pablo Agüero’s ‘Akelkarre’ at Co-Production Forum

The Europe-Latin America Co-production Forum represents the biggest industry event at the key festival for Latin American business with Europe

SAN SEBASTIAN — Alicia Scherson’s “1989,” Fernando Frías’ “Borderless” and Pablo Agüero’s “Akelarre” figure among 16 titles announced Tuesday for San Sebastian’s 2017 Europe-Latin America Co-Production Forum, its biggest industry event.

Also in the mix: Maite Alberdi’s “The Mole Agent,” Santiago Loza’s “Brief Story of the Green Planet,” Sergio Castro San Martin’s “El Gol Mas Triste,” “Planta Permanente,”from Argentina’s Campo Cine, and Rodrigo Sepúlveda’s “My Tender Matador,” from Chile’s Forastero (“The Maid,” “Aurora”), one of five often high-profile art films from Chile at this year’s Forum.

In a mark of recognition of the scale which the Forum has acquired, this year it will run an effective extra fourth day, from Sunday Sept. 24 through Wednesday Sept. 27, with Sunday dedicated to producer’s pitching their projects to an industry audience.

Set up at Isabel Orellana’s Araucaria Cine (“Nunca vas a estar solo”), “1989,” marks the latest film by Scherson, one of the founding mothers of the Novissimo Cine Chileno. Tackling the world of men for the first time, and “a male, one obsessed with war games, to boot,” said Scherson, its marks her second Roberto Bolaño adaptation after “Il Futuro,” here making over “The Third Reich.”

Just as Scherson tackles Bolaño, Sepulveda, whose “Aurora” won Chile’s 2014 SANFIC-Santiago Intl. Film Festival, takes on the only novel of Pedro Lemebel, a writer Bolaño admired and a courageous icon of Chilean left-wing queer counter-culture under Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship. Starring Alfredo Castro (“The Club,” “So Far Away”), “My Tender Matador,” narrates the love story between a middle-aged humble barrio queen and a member of the armed resistance to Pinochet.

Directed by Fernando Frias (“Calentamiento local,” “Rezeta”), a young on-the-rise Mexican filmmaker, “Borderless” is set up at Edgar San Juan’s Mexico-City based Film Tank. Written by Hipatia Argüero and San Juan, adapting an original story by Victor Ponten and Jim Tahihuttu, it is a “reflection on a new generation of first generation Americans, the sons and daughters of Latin Americans, who will hardly identify with the nation their parents had to leave,” said San Juan.

A witchcraft thriller, “Akelarre” melds a dream combo of factors for a Basque project: an arresting subject, the Inquisition’s trials of confessed Basque witches demo 1609; a prestigious director, Agüero, whose “Eva Doesn’t Sleep” played San Sebastián competition in 2015; private investment channeled via Sorkin Films, run by Kowalski Films and Lamia Producciones; and now a sales agent, Vicente Canales’ powerful Film Factory Ent.

Also from the Basque Country, Mikel Rueda’s “El doble mas quince” expands on his short “Caminan” in as tory of a generation-crossing relationship between a 16-year-old boy and a 45-year-old woman, with Maribel Verdú (“Y tu mamá también”) attached to play the latter once more.

“The Mole Agent” marks the third feature from Alberdi, Chile’s foremost young documentary director, which takes place in a world of private investigators and intelligence operatives. “‘Agent’ will be a genre blender. The aim is to work within the non-fiction boundaries on elements that habitually belong to fiction — film noirs, cop movies, thrillers,” Alberdi told Variety at IDFA.

Produced by Constanza Sanz Palacios Films and co-produced by Germany’s Autentika Films, Argentine Santiago Loza’s “Brief Story of the Green Planet” is a friendship-themed low-fi sci-fi turning on two friends, one transexual, the other gay, who discover a baby alien and determine to get it back safely to its parents. “This is about friendship and people going back to their roots, laced with great dialogue, which Santiago loves,” said co-producer Paulo Roberto de Carvalho, at Autentika.

Michel Franco’s Lucia Films announced at Guadalajara that it would co-produce “El Gol Mas Triste,” set up at Macarena Lopez’s Manufactura de Peliculas (“Rara”) in Chile, which lifts the lid on a damning episode in World Cup soccer history: the two-leg qualifying game between Chile (pictured) and the Soviet Union for the 1974 Word Cup. The return match was scheduled to take place in Chile’s National Stadium, which was being used at the time as a torture center by Augusto Pinochet’s regime.

Produced by powerful Brazil’s film-TV company Glaz via its Auteur Hub, Fábio Baldo’s “Sweet Hell Throughout the Galaxy” follows a Brazilian farmer who discovers a strange phenomenon coming from outside the earth. It marks Baldo’s follow-up to “Time Was Endless,” who played at 2016 Berlinale Panorama sidebar.

Argentine TV writer Mara Pescio (“Las Estrellas”) presents at the Forum “Ese fin de semana,” a Maravillacine project about a man returning to his town to sign a document that allows his ex-wife to leave the country with his daughter. But father and girl share the same desire for this never to happen. The project won a Raymundo Gleyzer award, a seed grant from Argentina’s INCAA Film Institute.

Colombian director Juan Sebastián Mesa, whose feature debut “Los Nadie” won the 2016 Venice Film Festival’s Critics Week prize, among other plaudits, will pitch drama project “La Roya.” Re-teaming with “Los Nadie’s” production outfit, Medellín’s Monociclo Cine, Mesa depicts in “La Roya” how a devastating plague consumes coffee crops in a Colombian town and its subsequent impact on people’s minds.

A psychological drama-thriller, produced by Valencia’s Sin Rodeos Films, Claudia Pinto Emperador’s film “Las consecuencias” has won development financing from the Latin America, Spain and Portugal film fund Ibermedia as well as Valencia’s IVAC Culturarts, among other sources. Pinto Emperador, born in Venezuela, broke through with her feature debut, drama “La distancia más larga,” which snagged the ReelWomenDirect Award at 2014 Cleveland International Film Festival and a Best Ibero-American Film nomination at the 2015 Goya Awards.

Argentine Mateo Bendesky’s sci-fi short film “The Magnetic Nature” played in 2015 Cannes Cinefondation competition. Set up at Buenos Aires-based Volpe Films, and structured as a co-production with Chile and Austria, “Limbo” marks Bendesky’s sophomore feature and a step-up in budgetary terms after debuting in 2013 with low-cost movie “In Here,” which premiered at Buenos Aires’ Bafici Festival.

Co-produced by Italy’s Malfé Film and Produzione Spinosa with France’s Wendigo Films, Matteo Tortone’s documentary “Mother Lode” follows a 21- year-old moto-taxi driver in Lima and his trip, looking for a better future, to the gold mine at Peru’s La Rinconada, the highest town in the world.

Ezequiel Radusky, whose film “The Owners,” co-directed alongside Agustín Toscano, snagged a Special Mention at Cannes 2013 Critics’ Week, will pitch “Planta Permanente,” produced by Campo Cine, the Buenos Aires shingle run by Argentine auteur Diego Lerman and producer partner Nicolás Avruj.

As in the Forum’s previous editions, the Ibermedia fund will present one project out of competition. This time round, it is Heidi Hassan and Patricia Pérez’s “Whispering,” a Spain-Cuba-Switzerland-France co-production, set up at Pontevedra’s Matriuska Producciones, which has already won a €60,000 ($71,400) development award from Galicia’s Xunta government, via the Axencia Galega das Industrias Culturais (Agadic).


“1989,” (Alicia Scherson, Chile)

“Akelarre,” (Pablo Agüero, Spain, France)

“Borderless,” (Fernando Frías, Mexico, The Netherlands)

“Brief Story of the Green Planet,” (Santiago Loza, Argentina, Germany)

“Sweet Hell Throughout the Galaxy,” (Fábio Baldo, Brazil)

“The Mole Agent,” (Maite Alberdi, Chile)

“El doble mas quince,” (Mikel Rueda, Spain)

“The Saddest Goal,” (Sergio Castro San Martín, Chile, Mexico, Brazil)

“Ese fin de semana,” (Mara Pescio, Argentina)

“The Rust,” (Juan Sebastián Mesa, Colombia)

“The Consequences,” (Claudia Pinto Emperador, Spain, Mexico)

“Limbo,” (Mateo Bendesky, Argentina, Chile, Austria)

“Mother Lode,” (Matteo Tortone, Italy, France)

“Planta permanente,” (Ezequiel Radusky, Argentina)

“My Tender Matador,” (Rodrigo Sepúlveda, Chile,  Argentina)

Ibermedia Project (Out of competition):

“Whispering,” (Heidi Hassan, Patricia Pérez, Spain, Cuba, Switzerland, France)

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