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‘Clara Sola,’ ‘Gabriela,’ ‘Penal Cordillera’ Set for 14th Guadalajara Co-Production Meeting

32-project line-up underscores larger presence of women, genre - such as Ramiro Garcia Bogliano’s ‘Demon Driven’ - and international co-productions

Nathalie Alvarez Mesén’s “Clara Sola,” Alejandro Fernández Almendras’s “Gabriela” and Felipe Carmona’s “Penal Cordillera” feature among 32 projects at Guadalajara’s 2018 Co-Production Meeting, the biggest international movie partnership event in Latin America.

Now in its 14th edition, and a fixture on Latin America’s film industry calendar, the Co-Pro Meet is in part a huge new talent showcase: 19 of the projects which will be pitched at one-to-one meetings over March 11-13 are first fiction features.

Other factors galvanize 2018’s event: Women, as half the meet’s titles are directed by women or feature them as protagonist; a significant hike in genre movies, or movies at least with genre beats, a sign of its build in Latin America and consultancy, for example, by the Sitges Fantastic Film Fest; a strong Catalan presence; more international co-production in place, which is a growing sign of Latin American industry maturity.

Some titles hit Guadalajara bulwarked by buzz. A socially awkward woman’s “magical journey” to escape oppression, “Clara Sola,” from Costa Rican-Swedish U of Columbia alum Alvarez Mesén, is produced by Nima Yousefi at Sweden’s Hobab. It has sparked an enthusiastic reaction from other producers of distinction.

Directed by Sundance winner Alejandro Fernández Almendras (“To Kill a Man”), one of Chile’s most prominent filmmakers, “Gabriela” is based on the life and dissembled passions of Nobel Prize winner Gabriela Mistral. It is produced by Sebastián Freund whose credits include co-directing 2012 Chilean blockbuster “Stefan vs. Kramer” and producing 2015 pedophile priest drama “El bosque de Karadima.”

Turning on the last stand by five Pinochet army generals, among his most murderous torturers, to avoid at any cost their transfer from a luxury prison in the Andes foothills, Carmona’s “Penal Cordillera” is set up at Dominga Sotomayor and Omar Zuñiga’s Cinestación whose “Late to Die Young,” from Sotomayor, is co-produced by Brazil’s RT Features. “Penal’s” screenplay is written by Carmona, a playwright-director, and Alejandro Fadel a co-scribe on Pablo Trapero’s “Lion’s Den.”

Women’s films at the Co-Pro Meet can be produced, directed and about women – as in Pilar Palamero’s buzzed-up “Las Niñas,” about the forging of  a religious school rebel, produced by Barcelona’s Valerie Delpierre whose credits include 2017 Berlinale first feature winner “Summer 1993.” “Wheat Field,” the feature debut of Mexico-based Argentine Anabel Caso, turns on two teen girls first love and lust in 1978 rural Mexico.

But male directors are increasingly portraying female sensibilities, as in “Así como las dormilonas,” from Adrián Castro Baeza, a Costa Rica road movie involving four women attempting to escape their past. Likewise, Mexican Leon Rechy’s “Sand,” by far one of the biggest-budgeted of Meet movies, weighs in as a post-apocalypse desert wasteland survival thriller. But it’s a woman, Lia, not a man, who leads survivors in a search for the last remaining water.

“Sand” is one potential highlight in the Co-Pro Meet’s strong genre/fantasy film presence. That takes in one icon of Latin America’s genre scene, Ramiro García Bogliano (“Penumbra”), a founding-father with brother Adrián of Argentina’s modern genre scene. “Hallucinogenic horror,” said García Bogliano, Co-Pro Meet title “Demon Driven” has friends trying to exorcize a demon which has possessed one’s girlfriend at one hell of a Saturday-night party. Sans crucifixes or Bibles, they have only hard drugs, of which they have partaken liberally.

English-language “The Morphable Man,” from Mexico’s Jonathan Ostsos Yaber, attempts to give a new face – literally – to staple romantic comedies, Ostos Yaber, its writer-director-producer, has told Variety. A late coming of ager, the dramedy romance revolves around a young Mexican living in Los Angeles whose emotions transform him into random objects – from bubbles to barbed wire. Dario Yazbek Bernal, the lead actor in Netflix series “La casa de las Flores,” is attached to star.

Of other Co-Production Meeting pitches, set up at Madrid’s Creta Producciones, “Conexo” adapts Spaniard Carlos Garcia Miranda’s high-school sci-fi novel; the second feature from Mexico’s Miguel Angel Nuñez Osuna (“Levantamuertos”), “Hombrecito” is a Western whose eponymous young romantic hero is involved in a 1930s peasants uprising; in fantasy horror “Paradox,” to be directed by Uruguay’s Alejandro Rocchi and Marco Betancor, a man battles his doppleganger.

Just as the rise of socially resonant fantasy film will be encouraged by Guillermo del Toro’s Academy Award win, so will Latin America’s co-production drive as its film industry matures. Few projects used to arrive in Guadalajara with international partners on board, Now getting on for half – 13 – of projects hit Guadalajara with overseas partners in place, with nearly as many pan-Latin American link-ups – such as buzzed-up doc-feature “Olympic Village,” a Chile-Argentina-Mexico-Uruguay partnership – as traditional co-productions with Europe.

“Contrary to claims that Latin American movies do not travel, the truth is that Latino-American movies are not only pleasing festivals but finding a niche, and not so niche, market,” said sales agency Latido Films’ Antonio Saura.

“The issue, as with all other cinemas, is the scope of this market,” he added.

Guadalajara’s guest, its presence playing out all over the festival, Catalonia brings five projects to the Meeting. Two are from women – “Ñiñas” and Anna Giralt Gris’ “Robin Bank,” a manual for robbing banks for social causes – as women drive much of the New New Catalan Cinema generational renewal. “Like Robin Bank,” “Parchis, the Documentary,” also forms part of Catalonia’s rich documentary tradition.

Save for being directed by a man, Santiago Fillol, a co-scribe on Oliver Laxe’s Cannes Critics’ Week winner “Mimosas,” Catalan project “Slaughterhouse” takes in near all the major trends coursing through the Meeting, melding fiction, documentary and genre beats in its tale of an anguished American filmmaker going to the Pampas to film the story of the first uprising against landowners in Argentina. There may be uncertainty about Catalonia’s political future, but not about the richness of its current cinema.

14TH CO-PRODUCTION MEETING. MARCH 11-13, 2018 PROJECTS: 

“Sand,” (León Rechy, Mexico, Argentina)

“Así como las dormilonas,” (Adrián Castro Baeza, Costa Rica)

“Clara Sola,” (Nathalie Álvarez Mesén, Colombia, Sweden)

“Conexo,” (Spain)

“Courage,” (Rubén Rojo Aura, Mexico, Spain)

“Yesterday,” (Esteban Andrés Villagómez Carranza, Ecuador)

“Demon Driven,” (Ramiro García Bogliano, Argentina, Brazil)

“The Fourth Kingdom,” (Adán Aliaga, Àlex Lora, Spain)

“Gabriela,” (Alejandro Fernández Almendras, Chile)

“Hombrecito,” (Miguel Núñez, Mexico)

“Martínez,” (Lorena Padilla, Mexico, Chile)

“Slaughterhouse,” (Santiago Fillol, Argentina, Spain, France)

“The Morphable Man,” (Jonathan Yaber, Mexico)

“The Snow Between Them,” (Pablo Martínez Pessi, Uruguay, Sweden)

“Las niñas,” (Pilar Palomero, Spain)

“Nocturnal,” (Gonzálo Calzada, Argentina)

“Nubes grises soplan sobre el campo verde,” (Carlos López Parra, Colombia)

“La nueva ruta,” (Joanna Vidal, Cuba)

“Carbon Paper,” (Roberto Panarotto, Brazil)

“Paradoxa,” (Alejandro Rocchi, Marco Bentancor, Uruguay)

“Parchis, the Documentary,” (Daniel Arasanz, Spain)

“Penal Cordillera,” (Felipe Carmona, Chile)

“Dogs,” (Vinko Tomicic, Bolivia)

“Dear Terror,” (Jaime Guerra, Dominican Republic)

“The Return of Mr. Roque Thielen to the Island of Akare Merú.” (Jorge Thielen Armand, Venezuela, Colombia, France)

“Return to Oaxacalifornia,” (Trisha Ziff, Mexico)

“Back to the Sea of My Deceased,” (Esteban García, Colombia, France)

“Robin Bank (or a Guide to Expropriating Banks),” (Anna Giralt Gris, Colombia, Spain)

“Wheat Field,” (Anabel Caso, Mexico)

“Paty’s Journey,” (Santiago Pedroche, Mexico)

“The Life and Lives of Mounir,” (Juliana Borges, Brazil, Central African Republic)

“Olympic Village,” (Sebastian Kohan Esquenazi, Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Uruguay)

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