SAN SEBASTIAN — As many people talk the talk, some companies are walking the walk – acquiring and selling women’s films as part of a growing business.
In the latest move, announced Sunday at San Sebastian as the festival, the biggest in the Spanish-speaking world, signed a gender parity charter, Latido Films has acquired international rights to films by two first-time Latin American women filmmakers: Camila Urrutia’s “Polvora en el corazón,” and “La Casa de los Conejos,” from Valeria Selinger.
That’s not charity. Rather, it reflects Latido’s conviction there’s really a market for movies by striking new women directors, following on what it describes as “a string of successes,” headed by Chilean Pepa San Martín’s “Rara” and Colombian Laura Mora’s “Killing Jesús.”
“We do not look at the gender of a talented director, we look for talent,” said Latido director Antonio Saura.
But it’s no coincidence, he went on, “that in these recent years, some of the best, most challenging stories are being directed by extremely talented women who finally are finding a way to have their movies financed and produced.”
Winner of the Work in Progress Award at the Malaga Spanish-Language Film Festival, “Polvora en el corazón” is a Guatemala-Spain co-production, It tells the story of two girlfriends that have to make a radical decision: How to cope with being raped by a gang: Should they resort to violence. Or are there other ways to react?
Produced by Inés Nofuentes, a co-producer on Jayro Bustamante’s Berlin winner “Ixcanul” and Julio Hernández Cordón’s “Te prometo anarquía,” “Pólvora” is the first feature of award-winning actress, performer and shorts director Urrutia. The two leads are also newcomers: Andrea Henry, a radio personality and influencer in Guatemala, and Vanessa Hernández, a graduate in performance arts.
“La Casa de los Conejos” marks documentary director Selinger’s first incursion into fiction features, here adapting the same-titled autobiographical novel from Laura Alcoba. It turns on a seven-year-old daughter of Montoneros, armed resistance fighters to Argentina’s bloody Junta dictatorship. She lives in hiding, first with her parents and later a group of Montoneros. Moving from one secret house to another, she changes names and looks, so as not be recognized by the police. An Argentine star cast takes in Miguel Angel Sola, best actor winner at the Seattle Film Festival for his performance in “The Last Suit,” Guadalupe Docampo (“Historia de un Clan”), and Dario Grandinetti (“Talk to Her,” “Julirya”).
Veteran producer-distributor Luis Angel Bellaba leads a multilateral international production, taking in, as co-producers, Susana Rizzuti at Spain’s Film Buró; Mirafilm, an Argentine company headed by Oscar Marcos Azar; Paris-based 5ème Planète; and Helmut Fische’s Liontree Pictures in Germany.
Over the last three years, Latido has driven into first features by young female directors tackling head-on the role of women in modern societies. Some battle arcane prejudice (“Rara,” a Berlinale Generation K Plus winner; Spaniard Arantxa Echevarría’s Directors’ Fortnight player “Carmen & Lola”), others dead-end futures in a rural society (Berlin Panorama title “When the Trees Fall,” by Ucrania’s Marysia Nikituk, yet others ingrained societal violence (San Sebastian Youth Award winner “Killing Jesus,”).
Latido’s young directors drive has brought acclaim, big fest berths, but also a sense of excitement, and sales, the latest, announced this San Sebastian, on “Carmen & Lola,” to Scandinavia (Scanbox), France (Eurozoom) and Benelux (Cherry Pickers).
“The work of a woman behind the camera can be felt in many cases. We’re seeing that clients, festivales, TV stations and the public at large are keyed in to that difference,” said Latido Films head of intl. sales, Juan Torres.
Championing young women cineastes allows Latido to work with producers they believe in, such as Bogotá and Cali-based 64A Films’ Diego Hernández, producer of “Killing Jesus,” with whom Latido Films has a three-film representation deal.
Working with “extremely talented women” “has shown us that their vision, tone, ways of getting the best performances out of their actors (both professional and non-pros) was nothing but a true commitment of making the very best film,” added Oscar Alonso, Latido head of festivals. Big fest selection proves Latido’s “on the right track,” he added.
“In Latido we are proud to offer a window for these voices,” Saura concluded.