Already backed by a four-way production partnership spanning Nicaragua, Mexico, the Netherlands and Germany, Laura Baumeister’s debut feature project “Daughter of Rage” swept three of the four prizes on offer at San Sebastian’s 8th Europe-Latin America Co-production Forum this year.
Now the project heads to Morelia, where Baumeister has been with short films in the past.
Born and raised in Nicaragua, Baumeister moved to Mexico and trained at the Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica (CCC). Equal parts sociologist and filmmaker, Baumeister participated at notable festivals such as Cannes’ Critics’ Week, Ficunam, the Stockholm Festival and, as previously mentioned, Morelia.
A mother/daughter story set in a garbage dump in Managua, Guatemala, “Daughter” follows eleven-year-old Maria, full of rage because her mother has abandoned her. Strong of will, the girl learns to care for herself and joins a gang of other abandoned children.
Production is slated for late 2019 with mid-2020 delivery planned.
Variety caught up with Baumeister after her San Sebastián presentation.
You’ve said before that the garbage dump in your story reflects a microcosm of the society it’s set in, of Nicaragua. Can you expand on that?
It’s a love story set in the dump, that goes beyond what is seen in the movie. It’s a reflection of society. You’ll see how a society views its garbage. In the case of Nicaragua, as this is a garbage dump with very little control, there is hardly any recycling, and this all happens on the edge of one of the largest lakes in the country. The environmental impact it is having is horrible. I think that speaks to some major oversights in my country.
And it will explore themes of sexism as well?
Absolutely. Maria is a girl who must overcome her mother’s abandonment, and who doesn’t even know her father. That’s to say that the absence of any paternity is so strong, and that has something to do with sexism or machismo in my country, which has the largest number of single mothers in all Latin America.
A major theme does seem to be the broken family.
Yes, exactly. Maria problems are doubled because there is an absence of something she never knew, which is too common in Nicaragua. But I think it’s also common in other Latin American countries. She has to face questions of abandonment with her mother and question the institution of motherhood. But it’s also about how a resilient girl uses imagination to cope with what’s happening around her. People have questioned my decision to have the mother abandon her, saying that no mother would do that. I always ask them why they think that, why they never say the same about fathers. People have no problem assuming that fathers can leave.
What has the CCC’s support meant to you?
The CCC has given me nothing but good fortune and blessings. It was my school where I learned this trade and started making short films. It’s because of the CCC in Mexico that I can dream of making this type of movie.
Like other filmmakers who have moved from Nicaragua or Guatemala to Mexico, it seems to me that it is one of the countries that currently basically maintains state funding to make films.
Yes, completely. Although it has also been declining. State support has been cut, which is controversial, but in reality, it is incredibly generous regardless of whether it has come down a little bit. Mexico has a network that welcomes us, welcomes foreigners, so that we can dedicate ourselves to learning and make movies.
Your project is being produced by three women from three different countries. Is that coincidence?
I feel very comfortable with us all being women. Obviously, there are men involved, but this production structure happened organically. It wasn’t any kind of rule. What happened is that mainly women approached and wanted to be part of this team with my sister and with me. We are a very diverse group, from age to nationality, even experience and travel. One thing we have in common, however, is our passion to make this film.