Colombian filmmaker Ruben Mendoza’s “Wandering Girl” (“Niña Errante) has won the Grand Prix for best film at the Black Nights Film Festival in Tallinn, Estonia, which wrapped Dec. 2.
The drama’s composer, Las Anes, also took home the Best Music prize whose score was praised by the jury for its “inspiring musical whispering of magical femininity.”
Cited by the jury for “powerfully exploring themes of grief and abandonment through a very moving, intimate, piercing, and delicate sensorial cinematic approach,” “Wandering Girl” was filmed across 932 miles (1,500 km) through Colombia. The coming-of-age/road movie follows four half-sisters who meet for the first time when their rakish father dies. Together they embark on a journey to leave the youngest, played by a mesmerizing Sofia Paz in her big screen debut, with an aunt.
“The film manages to unveil the inner worlds of four sisters and their relationships while at the same time explore social issues of contemporary Southern American society at large with refreshing honesty, catharsis, and originality,” the jury added.
Producer Daniel Garcia of Dia Fragma said: “It makes us so proud to be the first Latin American film to win this prize, considering the level of competition we had; this gives our film a great start.” Garcia shares the cash prize of $11,000+ (10,000 Euros) with Mendoza.
“Wandering Girl” had its world premiere at the Black Nights Film Festival whose Latin America programmer Javier Garcia Puerto and festival director Tiina Lokk have always sought to bring gems from Latin America to Estonian, Baltic and Scandinavian audiences.
Mendoza’s fourth fiction feature, “Wandering Girl” was co-produced by Thierry Lenouvel’s Cine-Sud Promotion who holds the international rights. Elba McAllister of Cineplex handles the Latin American rights and will take the drama to Ventana Sur.
“I have always been nurtured by women but they have remained a mystery to me,” said Mendoza, who through “Wandering Girl” sought to further enlighten and explore the world of women. With the exception of one mock documentary, his films have had feminine viewpoints. Some 75% of his crew for “Wandering Girl” were women although he did not consciously seek it. “I don’t see women, I see souls,” he said.
With the exception of Carolina Ramirez, who is a well-known TV actress and Paz, who has worked in the theater since the age of 12, the other girls are non-pro. Finding them involved auditioning as many as 4,000 girls. Once selected, they rehearsed for two months, said Mendoza. “They have become very close, their chemistry is almost genetic,” he said.
Born in 1980 in Colombia, Mendoza’s credits include “The Stoplight Society,” “Memories of a Vagabond” and “Dust on the Tongue.
The Black Nights Film Festival ran Nov. 16-Dec 2.