PANAMA CITY — An innovative omnibus film, “Dias de Luz” (Days of Light), produced by six Central American countries – Panamá, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador – received the $5,000 second prize at IFF Panama’s 4th Primera Mirada pix-in-post sidebar.
Coordinated by Panama’s Isabella Galvez, the $500,000 project highlights the work of six young directors. It has participated in the Rotterdam Lab, Fundación Carolina’s project development workshop, Costa Rica’s Cine en Construcción and has co-production support from Ibermedia. In April, it will screen at the Malaga Festival’s work-in-progress sidebar and will be released theatrically across Central America.
The six interwoven stories are based on radically different settings, ranging from the tropical forests of Guatemala to the skyscrapers of Panama City.
The characters in the six countries react to a sequence of shared events, that begin when a solar storm leads to a region-wide power outage.
As power is shut down, taking with it all modern communications, the characters are forced back to the essentials of life. Ultimately the film is about Central America’s shared culture and beliefs.
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“Without electricity (light) we can see another side of our being and return to a more grass roots perspective,” suggests Galvez. “It’s like an invitation to unite at an intimate level, across generations, between countries, between rich and poor.”
The directors involved in the project are Mauro Borges, Enrique Pérez Him, Julio López, Enrique Medrano, Sergio Ramírez and Gloria Carrión.
Each director wrote the first draft of their part of the film. Costa Rica’s Mauro Borges then wrote a single draft and Panama’s Enrique Pérez Him penned the final shooting script.
The six directors and six producers met for several brainstorming sessions and established a set of rules for the picture which they followed rigorously.
All sections were shot using the same camera equipment, a Sony F55, and the same cinematographer, Alvaro Rodriguez (who previously shot “Distancia” with Guatemala’s Sergio Ramirez), and with the same editor, Cesar Custodio, thereby endowing a common style to the whole project.
Although the characters never meet in the story, Pérez Him said that they nonetheless have a similar character arc: “The film is all about connections. Modern technology gives the illusion of connection. The film is about real connections, with the person right next to you.”
In addition to disconnecting from modern technology, the film also portrays the rising power of the evangelical church in Central America.
“We criticize fundamentalism,” said Pérez Him. “This is a growing concern, especially in Costa Rica where an evangelical pastor almost became president.”
He went on: “Some people are taking advantage of fear and social problems to sell their creed.”
The pic’s six directors have other projects in hand. Nicaragua’s Gloria Carrion is screening her doc “Heiress of the Wind,” about the Sandinista Revolution (1970-89), at IFF Panama, which received support from the Tribeca TFI Latin America Fund, IDFA Bertha Fund, and Cinergia. Fest screenings include Costa Rica, IDFA, FICG, BAFICI and Docs Barcelona. Producer, Julio Lopez, who worked on both “Days” and “Heiress,” commented that in both films, Carrion explores the coming-of-age political and social awareness of the main adolescent female characters.
“It’s very exciting to be part of this new generation of Central American filmmakers,” concluded Lopez. “We all share the same hunger to tell our stories to the world.”