Swiss director Matthias Huser, whose 2014 Kaurismaki-ish debut, “They Chased Me Through Arizona” drew fans at Locarno, is with his 8horses producer Tolga Dilsiz participating in Ventana Sur’s project section, where the two are looking to court potential co-producers on their upcoming feature, “The Jungle.”
At September’s San Sebastian Festival, the project won the Co-production Forum’s Eurimages Development Award. The win followed a San Sebastián Festival where the Swiss production collective 8horses also had the European première of “The Innocent,” screening in main competition.
“The Jungle” is the story of a woman who returns to her childhood home in the jungle to visit her dying father – a former engineer and self-proclaimed protector of a remote piece of jungle.
The two will struggle with long-dormant issues in their relationship, as well as the more practical matter of what will happen to their little patch of the jungle when the father is no longer around to protect it.
Dilsiz talked with Variety about the status of the project, the themes it will explore and responsible filmmaking.
Can you update us on what is happening at 8horses?
So we have four films in development right now and one co-production coming out. All four of the projects are by directors who are part of our collective, and part of the company as well. We share ideas and plans, discuss and develop those ideas there, but I’m not always part of those sessions. But there is one project that I’m very involved in, and that is “The Jungle.”
How is that project developing?
We went to the San Sebastian Co-production Forum and won the Eurimages Award there, and then got invited to Ventana Sur. As the lead producer I’m really happy with where we are. This is like a near-perfect situation to develop a project, being able to take part in all those initiatives, programs and workshops, which demonstrate international interest from an early stage.
Can you share some details about “The Jungle”?
Matthias is able to discuss all these themes, property, patriarchy, patrimony and colonialism, in a narrative way that isn’t too cerebral. It doesn’t flood your brain and make it difficult to understand. He plays with all these topics, but I think his biggest talent is, and you can see this in “They Chased Me Through Arizona,” he’s able to tell an intriguing story in a simple and easy way. He has such a good flow and he works well with the characters.
One appealing part of this project seems to be the relationship between the father and daughter. Although somewhat estranged, they don’t seem hostile towards one another.
From the story you can imagine there were some fights and discussions in their past, but I would say it’s normal family confrontation that happens, it’s not hostility. She grew up in the jungle as a child and young teenager, and as a child everything had a magical aura for her. But then as a teenager she has the urge of getting in touch with others of her age and to explore the world. Together with her mother who has a similar longing, she escapes“ from home.
And what kind of co-producers are you looking for?
It’s not all about financial co-producing. I think on a co-producing level where we want to share more is content, ideas, expertise, and knowledge. And, importantly, experience in shooting in the jungle. Everything will be difficult there. Although, we won’t spend eight weeks in the deepest jungle or anything like that. There is also social responsibility as a film production no matter where you come from. We don’t dare let our work leave behind negative marks.