BUENOS AIRES — Paris-based Alpha Violet has acquired international rights to Fernanda Valadez’s feature debut, “Identifying Features,” which world premieres in World Dramatic Competition at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.
Announced this week, the Sundance selection comes on top of a Films in Progress Prize at this September’s San Sebastian Festival.
Studying at Mexico’s Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica, (CCC), Valadez directed the short film “400 Maletas,” that earned nominations for the Student Academy Awards and Mexico’s Ariel Awards.
“Identifying Features” follows a mother searching desperately for her son, who has gone missing en route to the U.S.-Mexico border. Instead, she meets the young Miguel, recently deported from the U.S., who is eager to be reunited with his mother in Mexico, a country he hardly recognizes.
The two strike up a sense of companionship as they wander through a desolate, violence-ravaged townships and landscapes of today’s Mexico, where, the film’s synopsis says, victims and aggressors ramble together.
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The title – literally “non distinguishing features” – is symbolic. “I wanted to comment on the wave of violence and crimes in Mexico which affects everyone. In this situation, Mexicans are indistinguishable, only recognized by the people who love them,” Valadez told Variety.
Valadez produced “The Darkest Days of Us,” directed by Astrid Rondero, which was nominated this year for best first feature and best actress by the Mexican Academy of Cinematic Arts). Here Romero returns the favor, producing “Identifying Features” out of Corpulenta Producciones, founded by her and Valadez. Jack Zagha’s Avanti Pictures co-produces.
Announced out of Buenos Aires’ Ventana Sur, the deal was negotiated by Virginie Devesa of Alpha Violet with Rondero.
“It is an enormous pleasure for us at Alpha Violet to work on a strong new female voice coming from Mexico. We were deeply moved by this powerful and emotional film that makes spectators open their eyes to a terrifying situation,” Devesa said at Ventana Sur.
Founded by Devesa and Keiko Funato in 2011, Alpha Violet has carved out a reputation as a caring, curatorial agent handling a select number of edgy, author-driven films, with a consistent presence of new Latin American women directors. Alpha Violet has made excellent sales on Mexico’s Academy Award submission, Lila Aviles’ “La Camarista” (“The Chambermaid”), a Kino Lorber pick-up in the U.S.
Other recent titles take in Lithuania-set drama “Motherland,” by Tomas Vengris, Tokyo IFF Grand Prix winner “Uncle,” by Denmark’s Frelle Petersen and Yaron Shani’s Love Trilogy, (“Stripped,” “Chained,” “Reborn”), a depiction of the contradictions and complexities of love from the director of 2011’s Oscar-nominated “Ajami.”
The CCC saw another alum, Rodrigo Perez Pattinson also selected for Sundance World Dramatic Competition, an extraordinary achievement for the prestigious Mexican City film school which also has “Daughter of Rage,” the feature debut of Laura Baumeister which swept San Sebastian’s 8th Europe-Latin America Co-production Forum, a firm candidate for big fest selection later this year.