BUENOS AIRES — In the first deal to be announced on a title in Ventana Sur’s three live-action feature competitions, Madrid-based Latido Films, headed by Antonio Saura, has acquired world rights outside Mexico on Hari Sama’s Copia Final contender “This Is Not Berlin.”
Latido’s buy, celebrated with a handshake at Ventana Sur, effectively re-calibrates the film’s commercial status, taking it off there market for other sales agents but giving “This Is Not Berlin” the prestige of a blue-chip sales agent, one of the biggest specialists in Spanish-language titles, before Sama’s new feature screens Tuesday in Copia Final.
Some sort of deal was always on the cards for Sama’s fifth feature. It won two prizes at Impulso Morelia and has been selected for Sundance’s World Dramatic Competition.
The deal also says much about one way the independent market is going – ever more towards accessible but singular titles with entertainment appeal.
A heartfelt autobiographical tribute by Sama to the figures, martyrs, outrage and outrageousness of his formative years, “This Is Not Berlin” is set in 1986, as Mexico heaves with patriotic fervor at hosing the soccer World Cup. It turns on Carlos, 16, growing up in the intellectually soporific environment of a posh frat-boy private school in Mexico City’s Las Lomas. His life changes over night when he is taken to a a legendary nightclub, a bastion of anti-system attitude, as well as sex, drugs, alcohol and post-modernity. But Carlos’ cool out-there nightlife puts a strain on his friendship with his best-friend Gera, as he also yearns for Gera’s sister, a Patti Smith-ish nihilist lead singer.
The deal with lead producer Catatonia was negotiated by Juan Torres.
“This is not your typical coming of age movie,” said Oscar Alonso, Latido Films’ head of festivals. “On an artistic level, Hari Sama manages to capture the era, the desire for larger liberties, but does so subtly, while making it truly palpable.”
At the same time, Alonso said “This Is Not Berlin” represents a important step-up for its director.
Not for nothing, Alonso observed, Catatonia is also the producer of Alfonso Ruizpalacios’ feature debut “Guëros,” one of the most prized of Latin American films this decade.
The Sundance selection gives Latido a priceless opportunity to roll off the world premiere in the U.S. and continue selling the movie at Berlin’s European Film Market a couple of weeks later.
“This is Not Berlin” is “also immensely entertaining, allows a large empathy with the protagonist, and show a memorable reaction to conservatism, a true counter-culture movement, which resonates in another conservative era today.”