Daniel Ziskind, the associate producer of Cannes Film Festival’s buzzed-about competition entry “Yomeddine,” has come on board the lushly-lensed Ecuadorian feature “A Son of Man” which was directed by Luis Felipe Fernandez-Salvador and Pablo Agüero.
Ziskind has set off to raise “A Son of Man”‘s international profile, find sales and distribution partners, as well as position the film in the fall festival circuit. Ziskind will start pitching the film at Cannes and will host private screenings in June in Paris.
“A Son of Man” follows the coming of age of Pipe, an American teenager from the rich suburbs of Minneapolis who reluctantly joins his enigmatic father to Ecuador, his father’s home country, on a treasure hunt for Inca gold in Equator. The young man soon understands that he and his father cannot escape the family demons which are gradually emerging during their perilous journey through the jungle.
The film is a passion project which took 10 years in the making for Fernandez-Salvador (who is also known as Jamaicanoproblem) and his producer, Lily Van Ghemen, who is also his wife.
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Ziskind pointed out the film was “beautifully shot and it tells a strong story in a very cinematic way.
“‘A Son of Man’ has every chance of traveling around the world and at festival thanks to its vision and originality,” added Ziskind.
Fernandez-Salvador said the film was entirely shot with drones to bring more realism to the story and captures the characters’s experiences with more authenticity. “I’m a fan of Jean Rouche, the French filmmaker and anthropologist who is one of the founders of cinéma-vérité in France,” said the director who lives in Paris with Van Ghemen.
“The technological advances have enabled the use of drones for filming and I am hoping this film will give a new life to cinema-verite and encourage other filmmakers to use this tool to tell stories in a more compelling, immersive and cost-effective way than through traditional means,” said Fernandez-Salvador.
Van Ghemen, who produced the movie through her company Paracas Independent Films, said filming with drones also allowed the crew to shoot in dangerous locations across the dense Ecuadorian jungle and at high altitude while the climate was highly volatile.
Fernandez-Salvador and Van Ghemen both said “A Son of Man” carried important political themes which reflect the “social tyranny that Ecuador has perpetuated since the colonial times.”
They said “A Son of Man” was meant for an international audience because the story is told through the eyes – and narrated by — an American teenager who is confronted with his father’s obsessions and discovers a different world, others values.
“A Son of Man” is one of the rare arthouse films coming out of Ecuador. “The country’s local film production is very thin and it’s dominated by very mainstream movies that aren’t meant to be seen outside of Ecuador,” explained Fernandez-Salvador.
Van Ghemen said the lack of resources to make ambitious world cinema in Ecuador came from a general disinterest for the arts and culture.
“We’re hoping that by showing how gorgeous and culturally diverse Ecuador is, this film will trigger the pride of local institutions and bring them to be more open about funding movies,” said Van Ghemen, who also revealed that a documentary based on the 500 hours of footage from “A Son of Man”‘s filming is currently in post.
“A Son of Man” will be released in Equator in late September to qualify for next year’s Oscars.