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’En La Caliente’ Wins IFF Panama’s Primera Mirada Sidebar

Omnibus film ‘Dias de Luz’ awarded $5,000 second prize

PANAMA CITY — Cuban Reggaeton documentary “En La Caliente,” won the $10,000 first prize and a trip to this year’s Cannes Film Market in the 4th Primera Mirada pix-in-post sidebar.

Omnibus film “Dias de Luz” was awarded the $5,000 second prize.

“Caliente” focuses on Rubén Cuesta Palomo (aka Candyman), Cuba’s best known reggaeton artist in the early 2000s.

“Now he’s like a king without a crown. Nobody listens to him any more,” said producer Alejandro Tovar. “Maybe it’s because he’s too political. Maybe he was ahead of his time.”

The Primera Mirada jury enjoyed the pic’s playful spirit and its exploration of issues of class and race and the differences between high and low art, including the Cuban Institute of Music’s ambivalent attitude towards reggaeton.

Omnibus pic “Dias de Luz” impressed the jury because of its capacity to engage with audiences throughout Central America (see separate article). The jury stressed the potential of the other three films in competition.

Guatemalan Camila Urrutia’s $250,000 debut feature, “Pólvora en el Corazón” (Gunpowder Heart) is about love and friendship between two women. The project was won winner at the Guadalajara Co-production Meeting and received a special mention at Mar del Plata’s Lobo Lab. It will also screen in Málaga Work in Progress later this month.

“The feedback received after the screening in Panama, especially from sales agents, bodes well for the film to have a good career in film festivals in 2019,” said producer, Ines Nofuentes (“Ixcanul,” “I Promise You Anarchy”). Currently based out of Southern Spain, Nofuentes is also developing a new feature film by Guatemalan director Izabel Acevedo, “The Middleman,” which has been selected for the Latin America-Europe co-production meeting, “Puentes.”

Costa Rican Ernesto Villalobos’ sophomore pic, “Cascos Indomables” (Untamed Helmets), a bromance motorbiker pic, was developed at the Cannes Festival’s Cinefondation Residence, Paris Co-production Village, and Produire aud Sud, and screened in Sanfic’s work in progress section in 2017.

Villalobos emphasized the importance of initiatives like Primera Mirada to complete post-production funding. “It’s very hard to get funding in Central America, right now since we don’t have a solid film fund in Costa Rica.”

“Cascos” producer Marcelo Quesada Mena says that work-in-progress sidebars like Sanfic and Primera Mirada are essential to fine-tune films. “The advice we received from Sanfic allowed us to be more specific on the things that we wanted to happen, but perhaps needed adjustments to make sure they were happening on screen.”

Veteran Panamanian director Edgar Soberón Torchia’s documentary “Panama Radio” is set in a record store which became a key voice for the emerging Panamanian nation in the 1960s and 1970s, and hosted concerts by leading musicians such as Carlos Santana. The film uses archive photos and footage retrieved from private collections and Panama’s national library.

The production team self-financed the initial $100,000 production budget but have now received $20,000 from the Panamanian government and are now looking for a final $30,000 to complete the film. Hernandez also participated in IFF Panama’s Documentary Workshop with a project about gentrification in the Casco Antiguo historic centre.

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