San Sebastian: Biniez’s ‘The Waves,’ Franco’s ‘April’s Daughter,’ Lelio’s ‘Fantastic Woman’ at Horizontes Latinos

Seven of the 12 features at the Latin American showcase have previously played in San Sebastián’s Films in Progress pix-in-post sidebar

Courtesy of San Sebastian Film Festival

Adrián Biniez’s “The Waves,” Michel Franco’s “April’s Daughter” and Sebastián Lelio’s “A Fantastic Woman” will screen at the 65th San Sebastian’s Horizontes Latinos competition.

One of the festival’s biggest sidebars, Horizontes Latinos offers a contemporary showcase of feature films not yet screened in Spain, produced totally or partially in Latin America, directed by filmmakers of Latin origin or which have as their setting or subject matter Latino communities in the rest of the world.

This year, Horizontes opens with Lelio’s transgender drama “A Fantastic Woman,” a Participant Media-backed film, produced by Pablo and Juan de Dios Larrain’s Chile-based Fabula. Picked up by Sony Pictures Classics in the U.S. in one of Berlin’s highest-profile deals, “A Fantastic Woman” won a Silver Bear for best screenplay and a Teddy award at February’s Berlinale, and was one of its most talked-up titles.

With a regular presence at San Sebastian, Lelio already played at Horizontes Latinos in 2005 with his feature debut, family drama “La Sagrada Familia” and, with Funny Balloons-sold comedy “Gloria,” won 2012’s Films in Progress pix-in-post showcase and went on to take best actress at Berlin, seeing multiple international sales and significant overseas box office.

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Sold by Paris-based MK2, “April’s Daughter,” a mother-daughter melodrama toplining Spanish thesp Emma Suárez, earned this year the Jury Prize at Un Certain Regard. It also marks Mexican Franco’s return to feature direction after “Chronic” (2015), which won the best screenplay prize at Cannes. Teenage drama “After Lucía” (2012), Franco’s sophomore helming effort, nabbed a special mention in San Sebastian and best feature film at Un Certain Regard.

With a distinguished career as a not only a director but also producer, the Mexican filmmaker took best first feature award in Berlin for Gabriel Ripstein’s “600 Miles,” plus the Golden Lion in Venice and a Special Mention in San Sebastian for Lorenzo Vigas’ “From Afar,” both Horizontes Latinos players.

Seven of the twelve films selected for 2017 Horizontes Latinos competition bear a Films in Progress stamp of approval, such as “The Waves,” Argentine multi-hyphenate Adrian Biniez’s third feature, co-produced by Uruguay’s Mutante Cine and Argentina’s El Campo Cine, which played at Films in Progress last year.

Biniez made a grand feature debut in 2009 with drama “Gigante,” snagging the Grand Jury, the Alfred Bauer and the best first feature prizes at the Berlinale, as well as the Horizontes Award in San Sebastian. In “The Waves,” a more lyrical departure, he portrays a Montevideo messenger, in his mid-thirties, who goes to a beach, dives into the sea and ends up on other beaches in other summers of his youth.

Of a total 12 entries at Horizontes Latinos, six are first or second features, including Argentine Santiago Esteves’ cop thriller-drama “Rey’s Education,” who returns to San Sebastian after having swept last year both top prizes at Films in Progress 30.

Set in Argentina’s Mendoza, “Rey’s Education” is produced by Argentina’s 13 Conejos and Spain’s Nephilim Producciones. France’s Urban Distribution Intl. handles international rights.

“The Desert Bride” represents the joint feature debut of two promising Argentine distaff talents, Emmy-Award nominee Cecilia Atán and Valeria Pivato, that won a Patagonik International Screenwriters Competition. “The Desert Bride,” about a 54-year-old woman who has worked for decades as a live-in maid in Buenos Aires and is forced to take a job in a distant town when the family sells the house, has snagged the Films in Progress Toulouse Award, premiering in Un Certain Regard. It has just won the Jury Award for Best Debut Feature at the Lima Film Festival and run up healthy sales for Rapahel Berdugo’s Cité Films, in a rare third-party pickup for Cité Films.

Prized as a project with a 2015 Berlinale co-production market award, “Los Perros,” the sophomore film by Chilean Marcela Said, explores the collusion with Pinochet dictatorship of much of Chile’s upper crust, under and after his rule. Said’s first feature-length fiction, “The Summer of Flying Fish,” Films in Progress Toulouse Award in 2013, premiered at the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight.

“The Family,” the feature debut of Venezuela’s Gustavo Rondon, acquired for international by France’s Celluloid Dreams, played at Films in Progress last year and screened at Cannes Critics’ Week. The Caracas-set story follows Andrés, a 35-year-old father, and his 12-year-old son Pedro who decide to escape from the working district they live in after the son accidentally kills a young thief.

Also in the Horizontes Latinos mix are “Cocote,” from Dominican Republic’s Nelson Carlo de los Santos Arias, a recent Locarno’s Signs of Life Award winner; first-timer Natalia Garagiola’s “Hunting Season,” a Films in Progress 31 contender; Costa Rican Alaxandra Latishev’s drama “Medea” (Films in Progress 30), about a 25-year-old university student girl; Ulises Rosell’s “Al desierto,” a Patagonian Desert-set kidnapping story, and Brazil’s Alfonso Uchoa and Joao Dumans’ “Araby,” a Rotterdam and Buenos Aires film festivals player.

The Horizontes Latinos players will vie for a €35,000 ($40,950) prize. The six first and second films in the selection will also compete for the Eroski Youth Award. The Horizontes Latinos showcase forms part of the San Sebastian Intl. Film Festival, whose 65th edition runs Sept. 22-30.