Participating in San Sebastian’s Europe-Latin America Co-production Forum, Paula Kim’s debut feature “Butterfly Diaries” is pitched along the lines of controversial series “13 Reasons Why” and Marti Noxon’s anorexia drama “To the Bone,” both on Netflix.

“The film addresses a very important issue that afflicts many young girls, made by a director who is also a young woman,” said co-producer Sara Silveira, of Dezenove Som e Imagens, Brazil.

In “Butterfly Diaries,” a Brazilian exchange program student in London struggles not only with the onset of puberty but with a mental disorder.

“As an artist, I believe that sometimes, a person has to go through a very painful trial just to have a glimpse of what he or she truly holds within himself or herself,” said Kim, adding: “It is a film about existential crisis.”

Drama, penned by Kim, will be shot in Portuguese with some English in the U.K. scenes, said Silveira. Teen actress and influencer Valentina Schulz, a former Masterchef Junior contestant, leads the cast that includes Marco Ricca and Virginia Cavendish.

According to Silveira, who co-produces the $1.2 million-budgeted drama with Kim’s Sam Ka Pur Filmes, the project raised 70% of its financing in Brazil and is seeking to complete its funding, ideally from a U.K. or a European partner.

“Aside from a European co-producer, we will also seek a world sales agent for a partnership that will allow us to reach young females around the world, as this is a universal subject,” said Silveira.

Women dominate the project with Maria Ionescu serving as executive producer, Katia Coelho as director of photography. Pandora Filmes has picked up Brazilian distribution rights.

Born and raised in Sao Paolo, Brazil, Kim won the audience award at the Festival Mundial do Minuto and Best Latin Academic Short at the Montevideo Film Festival with her animated short, “Explicit Sex,” at the age of 17.

She has worked as a production assistant for such notable Korean directors as Park Chan-wook (Cannes Grand Prix winner, “Oldboy”), im Sang-soo (“Taste of Money”) and Shin Su-won (Cannes’ Un Certain Regard entry “Madonna”).

To be filmed in 2019, “Butterfly Diaries” was a finalist at the 2010 Bolivia Lab and the first Brazilian project to participate in France’s Ace Mundus selective training program. It is the only Brazilian project to date to take part in the Cannes-based Cinéfondation Atelier program.

Silveira’s credits include the recent Locarno Special Jury prize-winner “Good Manners” by Juliana Rojas and Marco Dutra, which is currently participating at the 22nd Brazilian Film Festival of Miami. Her other credits include Daniela Thomas’ Berlinale entry, “Vazante;” Caroline Leone’s 46th Rotterdam Film Fest Fipresci winner “A Window to Rosalia” and “Hard Labor,” also by Rojas and Dutra, which participated in Cannes’s 2011 Un Certain Regard sidebar.

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