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Bolivia Submits Controversial Gay Drama ‘Tu Me Manques’ to the Oscars (EXCLUSIVE)

Bolivia’s selection committee has opted to submit Rodrigo Bellott’s polemical “Tu Me Manques” to vie for the International Feature Film Academy Award.

The gay drama beat 11 other local films in contention. “By supporting my film despite the controversy, Bolivia has proven that it is a progressive country, and that in the end, art and cinema will prevail,” said Bellott, who has seen his fourth film greeted by both glowing reviews and homophobic slurs since it bowed in August.

This is the second time Bellott represents Bolivia at the Oscars. His breakout film, “Sexual Dependency,” which snagged the Fipresci Award in Locarno and screened at more than 65 international film fests, also became the country’s second official entry to the Academy Awards in 2003, after an eight-year absence following Juan Carlos Valdivia’s “Jonas and the Pink Whale.”

The fact that there were 11 other films under consideration is also testament to the mini production boom in Bolivia, which is expecting some 30 homegrown releases next year.

These will be among the first local films to benefit from the country’s new state fund, which has spurred more films into development and production in Bolivia.

Popular on Variety

Starring Argentine actor Oscar Martinez (“Wild Tales,” “The Distinguished Citizen”) and Spanish actress/Almodóvar muse Rossy de Palma, “Tu Me Manques” follows a man, played by Martínez, who goes to New York after the suicide of his son, to confront his son’s boyfriend, played by Bolivian actor Fernando Barbosa. While the two men clash over the father’s inability to understand his son’s sexuality, the boyfriend stages a play to pay tribute to his lost love.

Produced by Rodrigo A. Orozco, Elisa Lleras, and Bellott, “Tu Me Manques” is Bellott’s film adaptation of his 2015 play which was originally meant to stage for one night but was extended for an unprecedented four months due to popular demand. The story is inspired by Bellott’s boyfriend, who killed himself for fear of coming out. Bellott will soon launch the Tu Me Manques national foundation in a bid to empower youth and suicide survivors through education and the arts.

The bi-lingual drama won the Grand Jury Prize for best screenplay at L.A.’s Outfest where it had its world premiere last August.

In 2007, Variety named Bellott as one of the top ten Latin American talents to watch. His other helmer-scribe credits include road comedy “Who Killed the White Llama?”a successful attempt a local blockbuster which underscored Bellott’s range, and “Perfidy.” He later produced his first American horror film, “We Are What We Are,” by Jim Mickle, which premiered at Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight in 2013. As a casting director, he worked on Steven Soderbergh’s twin Che Guevara pics “The Argentine” and “Guerrilla,” and the French film “La Traque” (The Hunt).

Bellott is represented by Activist Artists Management.

The 92nd Academy Awards are slated to take place on February 9, 2020 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.

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