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In a sign of its perceived attractiveness for audiences in its native Portugal, major Portuguese distributor NOS Audiovisuais and public broadcaster RTP have acquired rights to Portuguese director Bruno Gascon’s sophomore feature “Shadow.”

A title worth keeping an eye on at this year’s Locarno Match Me! networking and co-production event, “Shadow” marks Gascon’s follow up to debut feature “Carga.”

A human-trafficking drama-thriller, “Carga” was sold to more than 20 countries by Paris-based Wide and finished in the top five most popular Portuguese films in that country last year by number of admissions, proving a breakout hit for the director and the film’s upstart production company Caracol Protagonista.

“More than just being happy with the successes we had with ‘Carga,’ as a female producer I was so proud that was about female empowerment and raising awareness,” Caracol Protaganista producer Joana Domingues recalled in a conversation with Variety from Locarno.

Filmmaker and producer have teamed once again on “Shadow,” and are in Locarno participating in Match Me!, where she is meeting with potential co-producers and sales agents.

A family drama, “Shadow” picks up years after the disappearance of an 11-year-old boy and turns on his still-grieving mother who continues to do everything within her power to find out what happened to her child, hoping for answers the justice system has failed to provide.

Domingues describes “Shadow” as, “A compelling love story of strength, courage, and the hope of a mother who, despite all the obstacles she encounters, never stops fighting.”

Gascon wrote the film’s now-finished Portuguese and English-language screenplay based on conversations he had with families who have suffered their children’s disappearance, and one mother in particular whose  story was especially impactful.

Starring Ana Moreira, a multi-award winning actress and 1999 Berlin EFP Shooting Star (“Aquaparque,” “Mutants”) in the lead role, the film features a high-profile Portuguese cast including Vítor Norte (“Bordeaux Consul”), Lúcia Moniz (“Love Happens”), Sara Sampaio (“Carga”), Ana Cristina Oliveira (“Miami Vice”) and José Raposo (“Saint George”), as well as a number of Gascon’s actors from “Carga.”

Filming will kick off at the end of September and take place in the stunning Portuguese city of Viana do Castelo with a few brief scenes also filmed in Spain.

“On ‘Carga’ we worked from the beginning thinking on a worldwide level,” said Domingues, comparing the development and production processes of “Carga” and “Shadow.”

“’Shadow’ has already received lots interest from different territories even before we’ve started shooting,” she went on. “That gives us high expectations about the potential future for this film.”

“Theatrical distribution is always difficult, and each project has its own obstacles,” she explained. “The way I react then is to start planning for an international audience from the beginning, and by choosing scripts, projects and directors that I truly believe in which have a voice that is interesting not only to a Portuguese audience but worldwide.”

“People are watching movies from all over the world from different cultures and languages proving that there are no boundaries. A good story is always a good story,” she finished.