This weekend’s third-best U.S. screen average of the year for “Gloria Bell,” which he produced, or the Oscar last for “A Fantastic Woman,” both point in the same direction: Arguably, no producer in Latin American has been so successful in the last decade as Juan de Dios Larraín.
The Ibero-American Mayahuel Larraín will now receive at Mexico’s Guadalajara Festival merely underscores that suggestion. Why is another matter. Prizes are a “consequence not a cause,” Juan de Dios Larraín argues. Variety digs deeper:
1.FABULA: A TALENT CENTER
Above all else, Hollywood is a talent center. So too the BBC in its heydays. With brother, director and fellow-producer, Pablo Larraín, described by Guy Lodge in his Variety review of Natalie Portman starrer “Jackie” as the most daring and prodigious political filmmaker of his generation, Larraín formed a natural talent center setting up Fabula in Santiago de Chile in 2004. Talent, moreover, attracts and sparks inspiration from other talent. Fabula filmmakers Sebastian Lelio (“Gloria,” “A Fantastic Woman,” “Gloria Bell”) Magaly Rivas (“Young & Wild) and now Lucía Puenzo (TV series “La Jauria”) have set standards for one another, working in what Pablo Larraín once described as “friendly rivalry.” “Cinema is a collective sport,” says Juan de Dios Larraín. “Working with this who have best developed this craft helps to get better results. Ideally, you should work with people who know more than you do.”
2.CHILE’S RICH THEATRICAL TRADITION
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It has given Larraín world-class actors (and theater directors), who deliver intricate, acutely-calibrated performances: Think Alfredo Castro (“Tony Manero,” “Post Mortem” “The Club,” ) and Luis Gnecco (“Neruda”) and playwrights as scriptwriters. Theater isn’t just about narrative: It is meant to have larger, universal meaning. So too do many Fabula films. Pablo Larraín’s “Neruda” delivers a non hagiographical vision of Chile’s Nobel prizewinner. But it is also explores identity as a fictional construct and the lure of immortality via fame.
“Films’ results are measured by what one expects. It’s important to establish what you expect from each project with a sense of reality, avoiding frustrations down the road,” Juan de Dios Larraín argues. Few producers outside the U.S. have been so good in recent years at delivering on expectation. Three times, Larraín has looked to broaden his filmmakers’ audience: With “No,” starring Gael García Bernal and “Gloria,”; moving into English-language filmmaking (“Jackie”) and establishing a U.S. office (“Gloria Bell” with Julianne Moore ); bowing a first international TV series (“La Jauría). Every time he’s delivered. “No” and “Gloria” earned $9.0 million and $10.3 million respectively worldwide; “Jackie” won Portman an Oscar nomination, glowing critical plaudits; “La Jauría” was picked up for co-development, production and distribution by Fremantle.
4.BEING ON FOR THE LONG RUN
The only thing highly successful people have in common is hard work, often over a near insane long time. “Fuga,” Larraín’s first production, bombed. Larraín says he really learnt to produce on a TV series, HBO’s “Prófugos.” “Good results commonly come after various attempts,” says Juan de Dios Larraín. “That’s how apprenticeship works, you do something, and then again, and so on. Cinema requires a longterm vision. It’s not a good idea to try to achieve significant results in the short run. Things don’t work like that.”
5.STRIVING FOR QUALITY
“It’s a cliché,” Juan de Díos Larraín recognizes. But it’s a cliché because it’s consistently true. “Quality’s related to detail in every part of the process, maybe more than a result an attitude,” Larraín argues. In such a competitive, challenged market as today’s movie sector, upscale films have to be really, really good. Otherwise, they most probably won’t work at all.
JUAN DE DIOS LARRAIN: SELECT CREDITS
2019: upcoming: “The Pack,” (TV series, Lucía Puenzo)
2019: upcoming: “Ema,” (Pablo Larraín, 2019)
2018: “Gloria Bell,” (Sebastián Lelio, 2018)
2017: “Princesita,” (Marialy Rivas, 2017)
2017: “A Fantastic Woman,” (Sebastián Lelio, 2017, Academy Award winner, Foreign Language Film)
2016: “Jackie,” (Pablo Larraín, best screenplay, Golden Osella, Venice; three Academy Award nominations: Actress (Natalie Portman), costume design (Madeline Fontaine); original score (Mica Levi)
2016: “Neruda,” (Pablo Larraín, Golden Globe nomination, Foreign Language Film)
2015: “The Club,” (Pablo Larraín, Grand Jury Prize, Berlin; Golden Globe nomination, Foreign Language Film)
2015: “Nasty Baby,” (Sebastián Silva, Teddy Award, Best Feature, Berlin)
2013: “The Quispe Girls,” (Sebastián Sepúlveda, Fedeora Award. best cinematography for Inti Briones, Venice)
2013: “Gloria,” (Sebastián Lelio, best actress (Paulina García) Berlin)
2013: “Crystal Fairy and the Magic Cactus,” (Sebastián Silva, directing award World Cinema – Dramatic, Sundance)
2012: “No,” (Pablo Larraín, Academy Award nomination, Foreign Language Film, C.I.C.A.E. Award, Directors’ Fortnight, Cannes)
2012: “Young & Wild,” (Marialy Rivas, screenwriting award, Rivas, Camila Gutiérrez, Pedro Peirano, Sebastián Sepúlveda, World Cinema – Dramatic, Sundance)
2011-2013: “Fugitives,” (TV series, directed by Javier “Fox” Patrón, Pablo Larraín, Jonathan Jakubowicz, Israel Adrián Caetano)
2010: “Post Mortem,” (Pablo Larraín, selected for Venice competition)
2010: “Blokes,” (Marialy Rivas, Grand Jury Prize winner, shorts competition, Miami)
2008: “Tony Manero,” (Pablo Larraín, selected for Cannes Directors’ Fortnight)