You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Shanghai: ‘A Son of Man’ Is Born of Quest for Invention and Exploration

Many independent filmmakers go to great lengths to get their movies made. Ecuador’s Luis Felipe Fernandez-Salvador had to invent his own technology in order to produce and direct “A Son of Man,” which unspools at the Shanghai International Film Festival, including three screenings this weekend.

A passion project for Paris-based professional explorer Fernandez-Salvador, the film tells the coming of age of an American teenager from the rich suburbs of Minneapolis, who reluctantly joins his enigmatic father on a treasure hunt for Incan gold in Ecuador. As they trek the beautiful but hazardous jungle, the young man understands that he and his father cannot escape the family demons which are closing in.

Over a period of years, Fernandez-Salvador devised what he calls a “flying Steadicam,” though he says it is not true that the whole film was shot with drones. The special device was necessary to capture the film’s extraordinary aerial shots and to leave the jungle environment in pristine condition.

“My challenge was to come up with a machine that is light and small enough to smuggle itself into any part of the real world, but also be capable of replicating all the traditional camera movements,” Fernandez-Salvador told Variety. His trip to Shanghai may help him contact local tech firms interested in manufacturing the device for a wider market.

Popular on Variety

Another of the film’s unusual characteristics is its position somewhere between documentary and fiction. It uses no actors, only real people who all use their own names and play themselves – including Lily Van Ghemen, who is additionally the film’s producer and married to Fernandez-Salvador.

The pair say that the film is the first product of Fernadez-Salvador’s Realismo Fantástico manifesto. He calls it a cinema sub-genre that is rooted in honest narratives, made with from real-cast characters, who engage the audience as in classical cinematic experiences like fiction. (He says he is a fan of Jean Rouche, the French filmmaker and anthropologist who is one of the founders of the cinema verité movement.)

The director, who also paid special attention to multi-dimensional sound design, says that the film needs to be seen in theaters. Shanghai is its first international outing, and is expected to be one of several festival appearances in the second half of this year.

“A Son of Man” was completed last year, played a limited commercial run, and qualified as Ecuador’s contender for the foreign-language Oscars.

More Film

  • Joel Silver

    Silver Pictures Settles with Family of Assistant Who Died on Bora Bora Trip

    Silver Pictures has reached a confidential settlement with the family of Carmel Musgrove, the assistant to Joel Silver who was found dead in a Bora Bora lagoon in 2015. Musgrove’s family filed a wrongful death suit in 2017, alleging that she had been overworked and furnished with drugs and alcohol during the trip. The family [...]

  • David O. Russell

    David O. Russell Looks at 'Three Kings' 20 Years Later

    When David O. Russell made “Three Kings” in 1999, it was one of the most definitive films on the Gulf War. At the time, the director had worked on shorts “Hairway to the Stars” and “Bingo Inferno: A Parody on American Obsessions.” He had also worked on features “Spanking the Monkey” and “Flirting with Disaster.” [...]

  • Metoo Sundance The Glorias Zola On

    #MeToo Issues Continue to Make an Impact on Sundance Films

    If there were any doubts that the impact of sexual-harassment exposés­­ and backlash against them had died down, Oprah Winfrey put them to rest when she withdrew her name (and Apple’s distribution) from “On The Record,” a film about allegations against music execs Russell Simmons and L.A. Reid — just two weeks before its Sundance Film Festival premiere. Variety reached out to Winfrey and the [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein arrives at a Manhattan

    Harvey Weinstein's Request to Move Trial Out of NYC Is Denied (Again)

    An appeals court denied the second request from Harvey Weinstein’s legal team to move his trial out of New York City on Tuesday. Weinstein’s attorneys asked the Appellate Division last week to move the trial to Albany or Suffolk County, arguing it is impossible for him to get a fair trial due to the “carnival-like [...]

  • Adrian Rossi appears in Summer White

    Visit Films to Sell Sundance Player ‘Summer White’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    New York-based sales company Visit Films has acquired worldwide rights for Mexican feature “Summer White,” world premiering in Sundance’s World Cinema Dramatic Competition on Sunday Jan. 26. Visit will also be screening the film at Berlinale’s European Film, Market. Now a key North American sales company for Latin American films, Visit’s catalog includes other major [...]

  • Avengers Endgame

    4DX High-Tech Cinemas Break Box Office Records in 2019

    CJ 4DPLEX, the company behind multi-sensory 4DX cinema technology, has announced that it had a record-breaking 2019, grossing more than £246 million ($320 million) for 4DX worldwide. It was the best year yet for the groundbreaking format, marking a 12% increase from 2018’s record $286 million. The uptick is partly credited to booming revenues in [...]

  • Endeavor Content Studio Logo

    Endeavor Content, Exile Strike First-Look Deal With Mexican Producer Subtrama (EXCLUSIVE)

    Endeavor Content is upping its local-language game, signing a significant first look deal with Mexico City-based producer Subtrama. Endeavor enters the deal with Exile Content Studio, a long-form English and Spanish content maker. Subtrama is behind films like Gael García Bernal’s “Museo.” Mauricio Katz, Manuel Alcalá, and Panorama Global’s Gerardo Gatica and Alberto Muffelmann run [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content