MADRID — New York-based Visit Films has acquired world sales rights outside Chile and Central America to Costa Rican comedy “Helmet Heads,” Neto Villalobos’ follow-up to first feature “All the Feathers” which, screening at Toronto in 2013 and playing over 30 festivals, established him as one of Central America’s most distinctive auteurs.
Produced by Karina Avellán and Marcelo Quesada for Costa Rica’s Pacífica Grey and Vilalobos, at Sucia Centroamericana, and co-produced by Dominga Sotomayor and Omar Zúñiga for Chile’s Cinestación – which, along with Sotomayor’s own “Too Late to Die Young,” gives the Chilean production house two movies in Discovery – “Helmet Heads” (Cascos Indomables) weighs in as a comedic but loving tribute to friendship and the streets of San José, where it was shot.
That is framed in a coming of age tale of Mancha, so called because of a blotch on his face, who leads a carefree adultescent life, only caring about riding his bike, being with his girlfriend, Clara, and hanging out with fellow messengers. Suddenly, in one day, Mancha receives a reality check. A massive layoff at his messenger company, leaves him unemployed and with no job prospects, and Clara, looking for more commitment, moves to Horse Island, where biking is banned. Attempting to navigate the more complex currents of adulthood, while preserving some sense of freedom, Mancha forms a debt-collecting biker gang while trying to win Clara back.
“Helmet Heads” was born from Neto’s “deep connection” with the motorcycle messengers, “individuals who do not adapt to conventional work and an office lifestyle,” who seek freedom and share a sense of solidarity, he said in a statement. His second film probes, like his first, via deadpan comedy, models of masculinity questioned by a downbeat world.
“These grown-up men tend to act like kids, killing time with each other and embracing the freedom of roaming the city that they see as their own,” Villalobos said.
He added: “Through their everyday social interactions and the absurd, I try to capture both the comedy and the heart of these messengers.”
Visit’s President Ryan Kampe said: “I had never seen a film where two characters make love in the middle of hundreds of dogs. The fact that the scene takes place in the middle of a great off-beat buddy comedy is even better. From that moment, I knew we had to bring this gem out into the world.”
Villalobos added: “I’m very excited to be a part of the Visit family and their prestigious selection of films and directors, and I can’t wait to share the film with audiences around the world.”
A film sales company based in Brooklyn, Visit describes its mission as selling unique and fascinating American and international independent films. It is one of a limited number of sales companies which also runs a U.S. distribution operation. New titles take in Kent Jones’ Tribeca hit “Diane” and Yeo Siew Hua’s Locarno Golden Leopard winner “A Land Imagined.”
Written by Villalobos, “Helmet Heads” is first production fruit of a broader industrial ecosystem in Costa Rica – the first film as producers of Pacifica Grey which, launched in 2012, has consolidated as one of the most important upscale independent distribution houses in Central America, releasing films such as “The Square,” “Lucky,” “Faces Places,” “Summer 1993” and “Custody.”
Partnership on “Helmet Heads” forms part of an adventurous co-production policy at Cinestación which sees it not only produce the films of its two director founding partners – Sotomayor and Omar Zuñiga, whose feature debut, “Los fuertes,” will screen in rough cut at September’s San Sebastian Festival – but also link around the globe to produce movies, whether with La Unión de los Ríos for Alejandro Fadel’s “Muere, monstruo, muere,” or with Jonas Carpignano’s Italy-based Stayblack Productions for Manuela Martelli’s “1976.”