SANTIAGO, Chile — The much anticipated feature debut of Chilean Francisca Alegria, renowned for her magical short “And the Whole Sky Fit in the Dead Cow’s Eye,” has firmed up its cast and shooting dates.
Argentine thesp Mia Maestro (“The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn”), Chile’s Leonor Varela (“Dallas,” “Blade 2”), Alfredo Castro (“From Afar,” “Museum”) and rising talent Lucas Balmaceda (“The Prince”) lead the cast.
Inspired by her short, a Sundance sensation where it snagged the Short Film Jury Award in 2017, Alegria’s upcoming feature, “The Cow that Sang a Song About the Future” adapts a similar magical realist tone in a family drama set in the verdant countryside of Valdivia, southern Chile.
Varela plays a single mother, Cecilia, who returns to her childhood home with her 19-year-old son (Balmaceda) where she faces a series of surreal events, including the deaths of hundreds of cows and the reappearance of her long dead mother (Maestro), whose suicide profoundly marked the family.
While agonizing animals sing about the future of the family, Cecilia begins to understand her mother as she listens to nature’s voice.
“The Cow…” is produced by one of Chile’s leading production shingles, Jirafa, run by Bruno Bettati and Matias De Bourguignon, which participates at Sanfic with co-production “Divino Amor” by Brazil’s Gabriel Mascaro.
Vania Catani’s Bananeira Films of Brazil (“Zama”), Tom Dercourt’s Paris-based Cinema Defacto and Dan Wechsler’s Bord Cadre Films (Switzerland) have boarded the film as co-producers. “We’ve also tapped a gamut of funds, including the Hubert Bals, World Cinema, Cinereach and backing from the respective film funds of France and Chile,” said De Bourguignon of the drama.
Peruvian-born cinematographer Inti Briones, who has worked with some of Chile’s leading lights, including Raul Ruiz, Cristian Jimenez, Alejandro Fernandez Almendras and Dominga Sotomayor, will lens the drama, set to shoot on location in April next year.
“Behind the casting of this film is a series of fortunate and rather odd events that have become part of the tissue of this film,” said Alegria.
“Each member of the cast has somehow brought a missing thread – or clue – that has helped me see the whole picture more clearly,” she continued.
“I don’t know how else to put it, it’s just been a tremendously enriching collaboration so far, and I can’t wait to be on set, seeing them bring their characters to life,” said Alegria who had invited both Varela and Maestro to join her at the Sundance Lab to work on the screenplay.
“When I met up with [Alegria] at the Sundance Lab, I was blown away by her unique narrative style and depth of storytelling,” said Varela, adding, “It also gives me great joy that this shoots in the magical South of my home country, Chile.”
“Since our meeting at the Sundance Lab a few years ago where she was beginning to work on the script of this film, we forged a very strong bond and I feel that both Leonor and I have somehow been part of all the incarnations of this story through the years,” Maestro said.
“I have always had the good fortune to accompany new directors in their feature debuts and it has been a wonderful experience,” said Castro, who plays Cecilia’s father, adding: ”Now Francisca summons me and I am incredibly honored and happy to be able to work with her, and support a project that is far more creative than many I have read in recent years.”
Alegria’s script “excites anyone who reads it because it shows us how intimately connected we are as humanity and how our body and our land express the wounds of the past to heal us once and for all,” Balmaceda concurred.