SANFIC: ‘Dry Martina,’ ’Unidad XV,’ ‘Untamed Helmets’ Showcased in Works in Progress

Many Latin American WIP titles set in a world of unemployment and often visceral disappointment

Three movies by key Latin American production houses – Martin Desalvo’s “Unidad XV: La Fuga,” Che Sandoval’s “Dry Martina” and Neto Villalobos’ “Cascos Indomables” – will be unveiled in rough-cut at this year’s SANFIC-Santiago Intl. Film Festival which kicks off Aug. 20 in Santiago de Chile with Santiago Mitre’s “The Summit,” starring Ricardo Darin.

They will be joined by another five titles at SANFIC’s 2017 Latin American Work in Progress. Now in its  sixth year, the section has grown in status as a first-look showcase for titles which go on to screen at other pix-in-post sections and eventually big festival berths in the upcoming year. Alejandro Fernandez Almendras’ “To Kill a Man,” which won 2013’s SANFIC Latin American Work in Progress and went on to become a 2014 Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner, is one case in point. The competition allots $3,000 cash prizes to winners.  One title chosen from the competition will be screened at late November’s Ventana Sur at a branded SANFIC event.

Argentina’s Magma Cine, one of Latin America’s clearest exponent of auteur genre (“Blood Appears,” “El Ardor,” “Second Death”), will present “Unidad XV: La Fuga,” a historical prison break thriller with political point. Set in 1957, and inspired by real events, it tracks four Peronist politicians’ desperate break out of a Patagonian desert penitentiary. Either they get to and cross the Andes or die. Desalvo’s “El día trajo la oscuridad” won best director at the 2014 Austin Fantastic Festival.

“Our challenge is to generate a political historical film that is relevant, modern and reflects an original creative voice,” said producer Juan Pablo Gugliotta, at Argentina’s Magma Cine. He added that “Unidad XIV” “connects perfectly with the political moment that our country – and indeed our whole region – is experiencing.”

Otherwise, the six features which will be screened in rough-cut at SANFIC’s WIP, paint a picture of a confused and suffering contemporary world where characters are afflicted by trauma, unemployment and visceral frustration, adopting desperate measures to get by. Rare and winding, the road to happiness is also unexpected.

Forastero, producer of Sebastian Silva’s Golden Globe-nominated “The Maid” and Dominga Sotomayor’s Rotterdam Tiger winner “Thursday Through Sunday,” teams with Rizoma, a driving force of the New Argentine Cinema (“Giant,” “The Custodian”) on “Dry Martina.” A dramedy, like his first features,  it questions the crisis in modern sentiments as characters cling to outmoded or inappropriate gender models,  while unable to accept or appreciate their circumstances, Here, Antonella Costa (“The Wind,” “Today and Tomorrow”) plays a 35-year-old Argentine singer who is dumped, loses her voice and becomes frigid – until she meets Chilean Carlos, who turns her on. But “the real root of her problems is affection, not sex,” Sandoval says, and a potential new family their solution.

Lead-produced by Karina Avellán and Marcelo Quesada at Costa Rica’s Pacífica Grey, and co-produced by Dominga Sotomayor and Omar Zúñiga at Chile’s Cinestación, “Cascos Indomables” (Untamed Helmets) boasts director Neto Villalobos’ hallmark bathos: a two-second clip recalls the opening credit scene of Marlon Brando’s “The Wild One,” but with his biker crew replaced by Costa Rican bike messengers on clapped-out machines.

“Untamed Helmets” weighs in as a comedic, but loving tribute to friendship and the streets of Costa Rican capital San Juan, where it was shot. That is framed in a coming of age tale of Mancha who, when a massive layoff at his messenger company threatens to end his neb-adolescent lifestyle, has to decide whether to step up as a leader of the sacked workers, or take his life to another next stage, joining his girlfriend on a small island. Starring newcomer Arturo Pardo and theater actress Daniela Mora, “Untamed Helmets” was developed at a Cannes Festival Cinéfondation Résidence.

Directed by Sofia Paloma Gomez and Camilo Becerra and set up at Chile’s La Jauria Comunicaciones, “Trastornos de sueño” (“Dreaming Disorders”) turns on Joel who, having been laid off, is forced to live with his mother and grandmother, an Alzheimer sufferer, in the cramped family flat. “Dreaming Disorders” is a dysfunctional family portrait capturing “the anguish felt when people have not been able to construct their own life projects,” Gomez and Becerra have said.

Another pan-Latin America co-production – between Venezuela and Chile –  “Atacama” marks the second feature of Enrique Bencomo, after 2014’s debut “Pipí Mil Pupú Dos Lucas.” It narrates three stories – involving a miner, an astronomer at the Alma radio-telescope site, and a big-city dweller – against the background of the Atacama Desert, which Bencomo has attempted to transform into a fourth main character in the movie.

Of documentaries, Marcel Beltrán’s “El Desaparecido de Kafka” is a portrait of legendary Cuban shutterbug Fernando Lopez Junque, better known as Chinolope. Once a famed photographer of the famous, working in New York and Cuba, he now lives in a humble Havana barrio and feels at 85 that his work is no longer respected:  He’s a shadow of his former self, like the anti-hero of Kafka’s novel, he argues.

SANFIC’s Latin American WIP also features two boxing documentaries. A record of dedication – the subject’s, the director’s – “El Guru” was shot over five years. Set up at Chile’s Hay que Hacerlo Producciones and directed and produced by Rory Barrientos Llamas, it tracks Carlos Ruiz, a salmon industry factory worker, as he prepares for over a year for a fight which, if he wins, would allow him to complete for the national title and make him remembered in his hometown.

Directed by Fernando Lopez Escrivá, “La Bonita” profiles Argentina’s Daniela “La Bonita” Bermudez, the latest from a humble family of boxers who battles to make a name for herself in boxing. Winning is the only chance for her family to rise above the poverty line and would satisfy the frustrated dreams of her father, her manager and trainer. Remarkably, she wins four world titles. Dreams come true, sometimes.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Amanda Awards

    ‘Out Stealing Horses’ Tops Norway’s 2019 Amanda Awards

    HAUGESUND, Norway —  Hans Petter Moland’s sweeping literary adaptation “Out Stealing Horses” put in a dominant showing at Norway’s Amanda Awards on Saturday night, placing first with a collected five awards, including best Norwegian film. Celebrating its 35th edition this year, the Norwegian industry’s top film prize helped kick off the Haugesund Film Festival and [...]

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Richard Williams, 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' Animator, Dies at 86

    Renowned animator Richard Williams, best known for his work on “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” died Friday at his home in Bristol, England, Variety has confirmed. He was 86. Williams was a distinguished animator, director, producer, author and teacher whose work has garnered three Oscars and three BAFTA Awards. In addition to his groundbreaking work as [...]

  • Instinct

    Locarno Film Review: 'Instinct'

    Now that “Game of Thrones” has finally reached its conclusion, releasing its gifted international ensemble into the casting wilds, will Hollywood remember just what it has in Carice van Houten? It’s not that the statuesque Dutch thesp hasn’t been consistently employed since her startling 2006 breakout in Paul Verhoeven’s “Black Book,” or even that she’s [...]

  • Good Boys Movie

    Box Office: 'Good Boys' Eyes Best Original Comedy Opening of 2019

    Universal’s “Good Boys” is surpassing expectations as it heads toward an estimated $20.8 million opening weekend at the domestic box office following $8.3 million in Friday ticket sales. That’s well above earlier estimates which placed the film in the $12 million to $15 million range, marking the first R-rated comedy to open at No. 1 [...]

  • Pedro Costa’s 'Vitalina Varela' Wins at

    Pedro Costa’s 'Vitalina Varela' Triumphs at Locarno Film Festival

    The 72nd Locarno Film Festival drew to a close Saturday with Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa’s dark and detached film “Vitalina Varela” coming away with several awards together with superlatives from segments of the hardcore cinephile crowd, including jury president Catherine Breillat. In announcing the Golden Leopard prize for the film, as well as best actress [...]

  • Vitalina Varela

    Locarno Film Review: 'Vitalina Varela'

    Frequently beautiful compositions and the theatrical use of a fierce kind of artifice have long been the hallmarks of Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa, regarded by a small but influential group of aesthetes as one of the great filmmakers of our era. For those in tune with his vision, the director’s films offer an exciting lesson [...]

  • Notre dame

    Locarno Film Review: 'Notre dame'

    Not to be too cynical about it, but might the recent horrific fire in Paris’ cathedral attract audiences to a film in which the gothic gem plays a major role? It’s likely a wiser marketing strategy than promoting the unrelenting silliness of Valerie Donzelli’s oh-so-kooky comedy “Notre dame,” the writer-director-star’s return to contemporary Paris following [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content